Four Industries Air Bushings are Revolutionizing Right Now
The Future is Frictionless
Technical industries across the spectrum are changing. As the demands for precision, efficiency, and lifespan increase, conventional ball bearings are no longer sufficient. Fortunately, a new innovation is already gaining adoption in a wide variety of applications, with the potential for many more. Here’s how air bushings are revolutionizing systems in a variety of precision industries:
As flip-chip pitches move down to mere hundreds of microns, and non-self-aligning processes gain prominence, even many modern surface mount technology (SMT) machines are not able to handle the accuracy demands. Beyond just limited tolerance, ball bearings also wear, eventually causing defects. This leads to lower “real accuracy,” the statistic referring to performance after five-ten million pick-and-place cycles. By utilizing air bushings, SMT machines can vastly increase this value, meeting tolerance while simultaneously increasing lifespan.
New Way’s® air bearing products work through our special Porous Media Technology™. By forcing air through millions of sub-micron holes in a carbon material, a stiff cushion of air is created between surfaces. This system allows New Way Air Bearings to use significantly lower air pressure, even compared to other air bearings on the market. As a result, our air bearings are cleanroom compliant, making them perfectly adapted to semiconductor pick-and-place manufacturing environments.
The frictionless action of air bushings gives them an inherent sensitivity, making them ideal for use in automotive testing. One application where New Way Air Bearings have been used are in high-precision dynamometers to get extremely accurate speed and torque measurements. The stiff air cushion makes action silent and vibration-free, ensuring high-quality data collection.
Air bushings can also be used in wind tunnel tests for high-performance automobiles. Modern automotive wind tunnels utilize massive treadmills to better analyze aerodynamic properties. New Way Air Bearings are capable of reaching surface speeds up to 100m/s, giving them a far higher capacity compared to conventional bearings. Also, unlike conventional bearings, air bushings won’t overheat, allowing for longer, faster tests without downtime.
Finally, on the other side testing, air bushings are being currently explored for use in high-efficiency turbochargers. Air bushings reduce mechanical loss, while also eliminating the need for oil. This, combined with the benefits listed above, make air bearings the current forefront of automotive technology, inside the car and out.
Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems require significant speed combined with highly stable motion. The technology behind the current machine is highly advanced, but there remains significant room for improvement. Studies have also shown that MRI machines can generate 110db of noise, which is equivalent to a rock concert. Thanks to the contactless motion and low psi of New Way Air Bearings, this issue could be fully eliminated, improving patient experience and outcomes.
In more emergent technologies, the 3D printing of orthopedic and cranial implants, dentures, and prosthetics is a growing industry. Creating custom prints for patients requires incredible detail, and our air bearings have the stability and tolerance to make mass production feasible.
Whether fossil fuels or renewable, nearly all energy production relies on rotating dynamos to convert mechanical force to electrical energy. In the coming decades, wind, tidal, and geothermal, power stands to see massive growth. New Way air bushings are crash-resistant, incredibly durable, and can be produced up to a meter in diameter, making them an excellent candidate for the next era in energy systems.
The non-contact bushings allow uninterrupted function even when contaminants such as salt or oil are on the drive shaft, perfect for wind on tidal applications. They are also highly crash-resistant, meaning in the face of catastrophic pressure loss, turbines will not be violently jarred, averting damage. There is an endless opportunity to incorporate these highly efficient tools to revolutionize energy production and create a cleaner world.