Precision Conveyors Offer New Possibilities to Tech Industries
Modern manufacturing has created a whole new ecosystem of machines and processes specially designed for factory automation. Conveyors alone were a $7.73 billion dollar industry in 2020, covering everything from automotive to pharmaceutical applications. However, when it comes to precision tech manufacturing, there is still significant room for improvement. Belt, roller, and other bearing-based conveyor systems wear unevenly, introduce random vibrations, and limit resolution, among other issues. New Way® Air Bars offer unique abilities, facilitating more efficient, higher quality processes in precision applications.
How Porous Media Technology™ Benefits Conveyor Systems
Unlike roller bearings, or even orifice air bearings, Porous Media air bearings function by forcing air through a porous carbon substrate. The millions of sub-micron holes in the substrate cause a stiff, highly controllable air cushion to form on the surface, providing a truly frictionless, contact free conveying method. This allows for unprecedented control, keeping components safe from scratches and breakage, all while providing essentially infinite resolution. With air bars, manufacturers can reduce errors and defects, and expect higher quality inspection.
New Way Air Bearings also provide another massively important benefit to the precision technology industry: cleanroom compliance. All of our products are ISO Class 3 (and arguably Class 1) compliant by the very nature of our porous carbon substrate. Our bearings run at very low pressure, and require no lubrication. This makes air bars ideal for tech applications when contamination is unacceptable.
Three Industries Where Air Bars Can Make the Difference
Flat Panel Display
Flat panel display manufacturing covers a range of new and emerging technologies including liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). The latter of the two involve laser patterning and cutting of multiple organic material films to create light, flexible, and durable displays on thin sheets of plastic. While current processing quality meets industrial demands, processing speeds need to be improved to make manufacturing feasible.
Air bars provide a clean, stable platform, allowing for the production of highly uniform and contamination-free films to maximize electrical performance. The Precision Zone air bar delivers unmatched fly height control, delivering consistent flatness across the entire surface. This opens the opportunity for faster production without sacrificing quality. For flat panel displays, porous media air bearings represent new possibilities for a growing industry.
According to a recent report by the SEIA, the photovoltaic manufacturing industry currently has the capacity to produce solar modules to meet about half of today’s domestic demand. As the world increasingly turns towards green energy, the capacity to efficiently and affordably produce solar modules will only increase. For applications such as these, New Way offers the H-Series Air Bar. This series uses stronger vacuum forces to maintain control of glass at high speeds.
A clean, fast, secure conveying system is vital to meeting the inevitable rising demands on the solar industry.
In addition to uncompromising speed and control, air bars offer precision conveyors the added benefit of natural crash-resistance. Due to the internal structure of the porous carbon, in the event of a catastrophic failure, the bearing will slowly depressurize, preventing severe damage to both components and the bearings themselves. This minimizes lost product in the event of an emergency, and eliminates costly downtime for conveyor repairs.
Precision industries require painstaking product inspection to ensure only pristine components leave the factory. However, traditional conveyors can limit the quality of inspection in a number of ways. First, limited resolution and hysteresis effects leave measurement error, reducing the accuracy of inspection. Second, bearing conveyor systems are subject to random vibration, potentially introducing additional error.
Air bars reduce the vibrations, resolution issues, and hysteresis effect associated with bearings. Instead, the stiff air cushion allows for a highly tunable fly height, allowing manufacturers to eliminate inspection error. Porous media air bearings allow for better readings, providing more accurate pass/fail systems, and better process control to identify potential issues before they occur.
Make the Difference in Your Process Today!
To learn more about how air bars are creating new opportunities for precision tech industries, download Air Bars in Flat Panel Display Manufacturing eBook! Or, contact us anytime to discuss how the power of Porous Media Technology™ will transform your custom application.