An essential part of the manufacturing process is the ability to control the movement and motion of production equipment efficiently and accurately. What may seem to be an obvious principle requires planning, design, and engineering to ensure that each device interacts without interfering in the overall process. To accomplish the proper level of productivity, motion control devices are used to regulate and monitor machine movement.
The number of motion control mechanisms covers a wide array of technologically advanced methods that have been perfected to precisely control how a machine performs its part of the manufacturing process. Included in the many motion control devices are air cylinders, electric motors, fractional horsepower motors, and linear actuators and sliders. Each of these motion methods is capable of being programmed and adjusted to control and create proper machine performance.
The mechanism of an air cylinder includes a shaft, rod, and plunger where the plunger is attached to the rod that is in the shaft of the cylinder. Motion is created when compressed air presses against the plunger, which causes the rod to extend outward to activate or control another operation. Air cylinders have varied uses in several industries.
A more complicated type of motion creating device is assembly machinery, which includes programmable CNC machines. Describing assembly machinery as assembly units tends to limit the many operations that programmable equipment can perform. After a computer aided design (CAD) is created, it is downloaded into the machine that can complete every part of the production process.
Electric motors have been a vital part of product production for hundreds of years. They are a dependable and reliable method for providing power to a wide range of equipment using either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC). The power from an electric motor is provided by electromagnetic action between coils and magnets to create mechanical force. The flexibility and adaptability of electric motors makes them suitable for any application that requires power.
The tiny fractional horsepower motor (FHP) provides power for commercial, residential, and industrial applications. Though they supply less than one horsepower of energy, they are capable of running kitchen appliances, conveyor belts, and cleaning equipment. The size of FHPs makes them useful in operating very small and compact devices and equipment.
A major component of many commercial, industrial, and residential products is the linear actuator that provides motion in one direction. When studying the function of a linear actuator, it may seem to be a simple and uncomplicated device. Though this may be true, linear actuators are an essential part of the motion control of a wide array of machinery.
The term linear actuator is a descriptor for a set of small machines that control the motion and performance of large devices. Included in the group of actuators are linear bearings and linear slide devices that perform the tasks of a linear actuator.
One of the most widely used and dependable devices that is part of a huge number of operations and processes is the linear actuator that assists in changing the direction and force of power. Though the function of a linear actuator can easily be understood, applying an actuator to an application requires great skill and engineering know-how. Engineers and designers have depended on linear actuators for years as a central and crucial part of equipment operation and performance.
A product related to linear actuators is linear bearings that create the same motion as other actuators but do it with greater fluidity and uniformity of motion. Added to the smooth and reliable motion of linear bearings is the lack of friction in their precise movements, which adds to the lifetime of their usefulness.
The linear slide, which produces the same single axis motion of linear actuators, contains a plane and rolling element where the plane is fixed, and bearings are the rolling element. Like linear bearings, the motion of a linear slide is smooth and friction free.
There are two central elements to all motion devices, which are smooth motion and friction for stopping. Bearings are used to provide smooth motion while various forms of friction materials slow or inhibit motion. Bearings and friction materials work together to assist in maintaining proper control of mechanical motion.
Air cylinders, also known as pneumatic cylinders, use compressed air to move objects.
These cylinders are comprised of a shaft, a rod, and a plunger. The plunger is attached to one end of the rod and is contained within the shaft of the cylinder. When compressed air is pumped into the shaft, the air presses against the plunger and causes the rod to extend out of the shaft. The rod is then retracted using compressed air or springs. Air cylinders are commonly used in the metal working, automotive, mining, and food processing industries as well as many others. Learn More
Assembly machinery is a large category of machinery that encompasses all computerized machines used in the manufacturing industry. One of the biggest perks to using these machines is the brief amount of human contact required to run one. Therefore, assembly machinery is more cost effective then a machining system that requires constant surveillance.
Assembly machinery is used in the production, assembly and packaging areas of the manufacturing industry. Assembly lines use automation equipment for all parts of making a product and getting it ready to ship, usually with a computerized machine for each step of production. Computer controlled machines are also referred to as CNC machines, specifically CNC manufacturing when they are programmed to produce sellable goods. Through programs such as computer assisted design (CAD), computer aided manufacturing (CAM) and photo imaging a manufacturing company is able to set up each step of the production with the precise measurements and exact details to make every product perfect. Production often includes automated equipment designed to perform tool and die processes, which can be more complicated and dangerous since drilling and cutting is involved. Conveyor belts are often utilized as the transportation of the product from one workstation to another, each assembly machine it passes building it more till it reaches the end a complete part. The conveyor belts must be built well with sturdy material, because they function as transport as well as a surface for the manufacturing automation machines to work on.
Bearings are tools that allow for relative motion between objects that reduce the amount of friction between components in a system, which allows for heavier objects to be moved with less effort. They provide smooth movement of parts or whole pieces of equipment; without these components, parts would wear out quicker and would require frequent maintenance or replacement.
Electric motors are used to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. These motors are comprised of electric coils and magnets.
The electromagnetic interactions between the coils and magnets produce mechanical forces which can be utilized to power many different kinds of devices and machinery. There are many different kinds of electric motors including DC motors, AC motors, universal motors, servo motors, stepper motors, linear motors, and many others. These different electric motors are used in a broad range of applications like in powering hard drives, household appliances, and power tools. Learn More
A fractional horsepower motor (FHP motor) is a small electric motor. Its power output is measured as a fraction of one horsepower. Typically, fractional horsepower motors are mounted on frames. Though no formal standard specifies a minimum size, most fractional horsepower motors are too large to fit into a pocket. Almost all have a power rating below that measures below one horsepower; larger motors are referred to as integral horsepower motors, and their power ratings are specified by integer multiples of one horsepower. Notably, motors on frame sizes 42, 48, and 56 are considered fractional horsepower motors even if the motor's power exceeds one horsepower.
Fractional horsepower motors are very common in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. There are two major types of fractional horsepower motors. Standard fractional horsepower motors are those larger than 1/20 horsepower. They are distributed among in kitchen appliances, grocery store conveyor belts, and vacuum cleaners. Very small motors, those of 1/20 horsepower or less, are referred to as sub-fractional horsepower motors or micro motors. They are often found powering small consumer devices such as electric toothbrushes and toys.
Friction materials are products used to slow or inhibit movement, and they are used in many different types of machinery to control or stop processes. The two main criteria for good friction materials are a high coefficient of friction and good energy absorption.
The coefficient of friction describes the roughness of a material, so a material with a high coefficient of friction is very rough and requires more energy to move along its surface. Frictional forces generate excessive heat, so it is also important that frictional materials be able to absorb this extra heat energy to prevent damage to the system. Friction materials are used extensively in braking and clutch systems which are essential in automotive equipment and industrial machinery. Learn More
Electroless nickel (EN) plating is an auto-catalytic chemical reaction that results in a layer of nickel alloy, typically nickel-phosphorus or nickel-boron, to be deposited onto a solid substrate like a metal or plastic workpiece.
A reducing agent, such as hydrated sodium hypophosphite, is crucial to the electroless nickel plating process because it reacts with the metal ions and allows for the nickel to be deposited. Learn More
Linear bearings are often used when an object is moved along a straight line with high precision in an industrial or manufacturing setting.
The object being moved on the linear bearings generally only needs to be moved in one direction, which makes the function and design of these linear bearings simple. The movement is produced with a high amount of repetition and fluidity. Learn More
Linear slides are devices used to allow free movement along a single axis. These devices consist of two main components: the plane and the rolling element.
The plane typically consists of a fixed plane and a sliding plane, and ball bearings or roll bearings comprise the rolling element which lies between the two planes. The bearings allow the sliding plane to move easily with little friction. These devices are utilized in many kinds of machinery to push, pull, or position materials or tools, and multiple slides can be used to allow motion in several different directions. For example, XY tables utilize motorized linear slides to move objects left and right as well as forward and back. Learn More