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Inspection Systems


Air Bearings for Inspection Technologies

New Way Air Bearings® has long supplied parts for coordinate measuring machines to meet their full potential, but Porous Media™ air bearings are also applicable to a wide array of other inspection technologies. For processes such as pressure transduction, roundness checking, dynamic inspection and more, Frictionless Motion™ sets the stage for a future of high precision inspection systems.

Coordinate Measurement

Our Porous Media bearings began their commercial lifecycle when Russ Shelton—father of the Checkmate Coordinate Measuring Machine (CCM)—recognized the value of building a CMM system on air bearings. Because these bearings feature no internal inertia, this means no overshoot or motion hysteresis, providing unmatched positioning accuracy for inspection applications. To this day, Sheffield CMMs (now under Hexagon Federal) employ Porous Media bearings or can be retrofitted with them. Requiring linear, translational motion, these systems are commonly built on our original flat round or flat rectangular bearings.

Force Balancing and Pressure Transduction

For force balance techniques that require perfectly tared measurements, air bearings offer a unique benefit. For a real world example, take our partners at Airpot ® Corporation, who deal in precision force pneumatics, motion, and displacement. They required a means to test the accuracy and balance of their Air Cylinders for counterbalancing vertically guided loads.

Airpel actuated a 50 pound load using a New Way Linear Slide, which itself was actuated by a pair of Airpel’s Air Cylinders, allowing the load to be counterbalanced to such a degree that any motion will disturb it from equilibrium. This has immense implications for broader force measurement techniques, as highly sensitive force balances and wind tunnel stings can also be built on air bearing fixtures.

Dynamic Inspection

For inspection of dynamic systems, air bearings offer an accurate choice for removing mechanical influence on the probe surface. +Vantage Corporation, a leader in integration and automation technologies, was developing a system for the inspection of pin and crank journals on a crankshaft. They found that only Porous Media provides the repeatable, nanometer-scale accuracy needed for inspecting critical automotive components. Friction commonly masks error or induces error of it’s own, so XYZ platen stages built on linear bearings provide a compelling choice for dynamic inspection

Torque Measurement

Moving from linear applications to rotary ones, the same high precision qualities which Porous Media brings to linear motion still apply. Air Bushings and Air Spindles enable fast, self-centering radial motion. We teamed up with Magtrol to create a system to measure the static torque in small motors. Their goal was to calibrate their own “golden system” for internal reference. Magtrol used radial bearings and air bushings to develop their torque Calibration Beam as a standard for their dynamometers.

In-Situ Interferometry

Air bearings are not just applicable to more conventional inspection and measurement techniques. They also can assist with non-contact technology. Air Turns from New Way offer a non-contact replacement for web handling in roll-to-roll processes, but also allow for a new form of interferometry based in situ inspection.

Owing to the air gap on either side of a material being transported, flatness and web stability can be measured in real time through such techniques as IBS Precision Engineering’s Areal Interferometry for Nanoscale Surfaces (ARINNA). This in-process inspection gives an operator the ability to actively adjust fly height in response to measured data, not previously a capability for roll to roll processes.

Contact Us

If you want to learn more about how New Way can benefit your inspection application or you want to learn about one we’ve discussed, please contact us!

Rotary Motion
Spindle on an industrial lathe.
Rotary Motion

For constraining and supporting the outer or inner diameter of a rotating assembly.

Linear Motion Bearings
precision machine tool
Linear Motion Bearings

For unparalleled straightness of motion over metal or stone guideways.


Truly repeatable motion offers meteorological instruments motion with virtually no hysteresis error.

Automobile Testing

Frictionless motion enables rolling wind tunnels and true force dynamometry.

Flat Rectangular Air Bearings
rectangle bearings
Flat Rectangular Air Bearings

Flat Round Air Bearings
round bearings
Flat Round Air Bearings

Radial Air Bearings
radial bearings
Radial Air Bearings

Learn More About the Porous Media Difference