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Air Spindles: Now and in the Future

Air Spindles: Now and in the Future

CNC lathe machining a complex part from brass.While we may have started exclusively with linear-motion-focused products, New Way Air Bearings® is proud to provide a wide array of products for rotational motion as well—chief among them— the air spindle.

New Way Air Spindles are a revolutionary application of our foundational Porous Media Technology™. Whereas our traditional options like Flat Round and Flat Rectangular Air Bearings use our porous carbon to create a micro-thin air cushion between the air bearing and its guide surface, here we apply that same principle between the rotor and stator of the spindle.

By removing contact bearings, with their surface defects and inherent motion, asynchronous error is almost entirely eliminated, speed is increased, and downtime due to wear and tear is removed entirely.

Air Spindles are ideal for rotary motion applications which require high speed, high precision, and no risk of outgassing into the environment. Here, we’ll cover how one of our most valuable customers uses air spindles, as well as their numerous applications and the full breadth of the product line.

+Vantage Sees the Difference

+Vantage, an industry-leading supplier of metrology, inspection, and automation equipment, has been a longtime New Way customer. In 2016, +Vantage reached out to New Way for help in developing a precision inspection solution for pin-and-crank journals on automotive crankshafts.

+Vantage required a solution that completely eliminated friction, thus allowing the gauge head to move without contributing mechanical influences. New Way saw this as the perfect opportunity for our Air Spindles and set about to build a system. +Vantage was so impressed with New Way’s turnkey abilities, they now use New Way Air Bearings products in their standard spindle for performing precision roundness measurement, across their entire product line.

“We haven’t been disappointed with a single product,” says Cal Mumaw, engineering manager at +Vantage.

CNC Lathes

Due to their low maintenance and high-speed capabilities, air spindles are an ideal choice for CNC lathes. Computer Numerical Control—or CNC lathes, mills, and 5 axis machines—are the standard for modern manufacturing. And, their rapid speed of operation can cause accelerated wear and tear on their components, a factor the air spindle doesn’t need to contend with.

Additionally, since CNC programs stop, start, translate, and rotate their components at high speed, you need a technology without any chance of overshoot or accidental acceleration. Air spindles completely eliminate asynchronous errors, making them precise enough to position the world’s largest telescopes for the study of galaxies and black holes.

We’ve all seen the youtube videos of CNC jobs gone wrong, so the last thing you want to concern yourself with is the possibility of introducing another source of failure into your system. While air bearings might seem like an unsafe choice, it’s actually quite the opposite. Even in the event of complete power loss, air bearings slowly depressurize, and the soft carbon surface absorbs the weight of the assembly, preventing damage to your system or guideways.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

Pharmaceutical factory worker in a cleanroom environment.

For the production of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and other life-saving medicines, production processes involve mixing their base ingredients. For these manufacturing steps, any bearings would require food-grade lubricants. But, when you’re working in a cleanroom environment, lubricant of any type is already a liability.

Outgassing from the bearing can contaminate the cleanroom, and by extension, your product. New Way Air Bearings, on the other hand, are ISO Class 3, and arguably Class 1 compliant, per our own internal testing. The very nature of our Porous Media™ makes it a sub-micron filter for its own air supply, preventing particle infiltration.

During the course of our testing, a 750mm air bearing only produced 3 0.1 micron-sized particles, below the 10 particle cutoff for ISO Class 1. If you’re looking to maintain the most stringent cleanroom conditions possible, then air-spindle-based mixing solutions are the logical choice.

A Full Product Line

New Way Air Spindles are available in a wide variety of sizes, configurations, and variants. T-Series Air Spindles are available from the 55mm SS-55 all the way up to the 375mm SS-375 model, with imperial-sized options also available. For a complete, all-in-one package, we also offer the Servo-Driven Rotary Stage, which pairs an air spindle with a high precision rotary encoder and a brushless, spotless motor, enabling 1.1arcsecond resolution.

Contact Us

If you have questions about upgrading to a system built on air spindles or you already have an idea in mind, please contact us!

Contact us today for a complimentary consultation