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Air Bearings for Marine Applications

At New Way Air Bearings®, we work tirelessly to provide our Porous Media™ Air Bearing technology to firms looking for a fundamental change in the way they approach their processes. Currently, we see immense value in the marine industry, both within shipyards and the larger shipping industry as a whole. Read on to discover the unique benefits of porous graphite air bearings to boat manufacturers, and to marine applications at large.

Porous Media Technology in Marine Markets

As we continue further into a globalized economy, the value of maritime operations cannot be overstated. The US Department of Transportation states that fully 70% of our trade weight and 18% of our GDP is transported by water, underscoring the need for effective technologies to enable seamless production of ships, and the continued operation of the ports where they load and unload cargo.

View of a shipping port at dusk

Operation in Marine Environments

Contact bearings fail in marine environments in numerous ways, from both the traditional mechanical failure modes like spalling and fretting to more uniquely hydrodynamic phenomena like cavitation erosion. Owing to their operability to submerged environments, air bearings can operate both fully under water —delivering a superior propeller bearing— or against a wetted surface in a shipyard, where our air bearings’ capacity to come vacuum preloaded ensure stability and control in difficult environments.

Propeller Balancing

Among the most delicate operations for any industry or application which relies on a rotating mass is the rotor balancing step, and ship propellers require this just as much. Balancing ship propellers is integral to reduce vibration caused by off axis (eccentric) motion, and while a propeller may be statically balanced, it can become unbalanced as small differences in mass distribution become large moment arms at high speeds.

Balancing itself is often a fundamentally flawed process, owing to the roller bearings upon which the rotational axis of the balancing rig rests. If these bearings have begun to spall, this introduces an imperfect center of gravity to the test rig, a flaw which directly translates into an unbalanced rotor.

Air bearings have long been designed specifically for balancing operations. The modular nature of our radial air bearings allows for numerous sizes of test articles and their self-centering nature ensures that your propeller will be aligned exactly with the axis of rotation.


Rotary Motion

As a replacement for contact bearings, products like our air bushings may be used to support a rotating shaft at high speeds, with zero wear to the shaft or the interior diameter of the bushing. The air pressure will push out water, maintaining the Frictionless Motion®️, and paving the way for a new generation of outboard engines free from traditional bearings.

Rotor Balancing

Air bearings have been and continue to be the superior choice for rotor or propeller balancing operations. The self-centering nature of air bearings means you naturally align with the axis of rotation, and the non-contact motion reduces both noise to the operator and vibrations through the test stand.


Lubricant Free Motion

Because all of our air bearings operate on a 5-micron thin layer of air, there is no contact between the air bearing and its guide surface, and thus, no wear and tear. Air bearings are simply a more durable, longer lasting solution than any of their contact motion based counterparts, and this is before we consider their more unique traits

Self-Sealing Operation

Because air bearings generate their layer of air through positive pressure against the rotating surface, this means they can work in a submerged environment, as we’ve already discussed. Moreover, air bearings can even provide sealing and motion simultaneously. Products like our New-Seal™ use an internal O-ring with the pressure of the bearing to repel fluid or particle intrusion up to 35PSI, a powerful benefit for marine environments.

Self Centering Operation

For rotor balancing operations, no benefit is as valuable as the self centering nature of air bearings. Because air bearings operate off of the compressibility of air, this means they have a positive relationship between stiffness and damping, and will naturally drive a rotating article towards a perfect axis of rotation. This relationship is effectively unheard of in mechanical motion technology, and is owed to the Squeeze Film Effect.

Contact Us

If you’d like to learn more about air bearings in the marine industry or already have an application in mind, 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.

Rotor Balancing
rotor balancing
Rotor Balancing

Air Bearings provide a precise axis of rotation for rotor balancing operations.

Balance Bearings
balance bearing
Balance Bearings

Turbomachinery Seals
double faced seals new seal new way air bearings
Turbomachinery Seals

Radial Air Bearings
radial bearings
Radial Air Bearings

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