The Benefits of Custom Bearings
Put our engineering team and in-house manufacturing resources to the test. Use our customization and design collaboration services as a tool to streamline assembly, reduce installation time, enhance your application, and improve performance.
PBC Linear utilizes over 200,000 square feet of manufacturing space, and brings together engineers with skillsets from a wide range of disciplines to specially modify, integrate, or adjust products to custom fit your application. Product optimization can include additional tap holes, lengths, and mounting to fully optimized bearing solutions. Custom bearings and bearing assemblies can be designed (or re-designed) to solve specific application problems, lengthen service intervals, and improve equipment performance or save energy.
Over the past 30-plus years, PBC Linear has satisfied thousands of these special requests with our components and systems, and a unique protocol has been put into place to address this high number of custom configurations. When working with our application engineers or inside sales team, you may hear one of two terms used: “Engineered to Order” (ETO) which refers to the process used in developing custom solutions, or “PAC specials” which denotes the prefix for a non-standard part number. Both customer specific and modified standard parts will begin the part number with the prefix “PAC”. The alpha-numeric identifiers following the “PAC” will be associated with specific product lines, components, and modifications that best suit the application, design, and manufacture of the special product.
Custom Carriages and their Benefits
These specialized or custom products have been used in a wide range of applications including general industrial applications and government agencies, saltwater environments and submarines, aerospace and outer space. Parts have been supplied for clean room applications, operating rooms, high tech robotics, and automated pick and place equipment.
One way that PBC Linear achieves improved performance through customization is by streamlining the features and requirements into its carriage designs. Two ways this can be accomplished is by either modifying the standard available carriage, or by creating a completely new carriage through incorporation of the application parts.
- Modified Standard: The modified standard option offers several additional machining features to enhance application fit. Our engineers and machinists can customize standard carriages through extended lengths, additional or repositioned tapped holes, or added machined features for alignment and reference. These optional features are made possible by our 24/7 flexible machining centers, 30-plus CNC turning and milling machines, shaft grinding and straightening processes — all completed in house.
- Complete Custom: For this option, PBC Linear engineers work directly with the customer design teams to create new, more integrated carriage solutions that combine design features with PBC Linear products. The result is a streamlined assembly that reduces extra pieces and saves on total installed cost. This is typically done by eliminating machining plates and fasteners. Additionally, it reduces the number of machining vendors by using our on-site capabilities for high volume production.
An example that portrays both uses of modified and complete options are the carriages we created for an aircraft interior design firm. In the modified standard example, Low Profile Redi-Rail linear guides were enhanced with additional tapped holes and mounting features to the carriages in order to ease installation and integration – creating a better fit and performance.
In the complete custom carriage option, two carriages were machined with special dowel pins, tapped holes, and an additional mounting apparatus added to ensure complete integration while reducing the number of mounting components.
Custom linear rails and their benefits
Standard linear rail components meet the demands of most industrial applications, but in some instances, a customized rail solution can offer advantages and benefits for the designer. Here are some beneficial reasons to consider a custom linear rail solution.
- Personalized Look — Often linear rails and slides are hidden within a machine, but in other cases, they are clearly seen. One way an equipment manufacturer can separate their brand is to customize a rail to give it their own look. Color and machined features are two examples of eye appeal that can be seen in exercise equipment and open kiosk retail systems.
- Cost Savings — While extra machining does add cost to components, often there are hidden costs in an overall system that can be cut or eliminated when using custom rails. Savings in installation time, fewer components, and shipment weight are just a few of the cost considerations.
- Cleanability — Slots, weep holes, and other features can be added to a linear rail to ensure the maximum performance in a washdown environment. To learn more about the best practices in washdowns, please read the white paper: Linear Motion Design for Washdown Applications.
- Ease of Assembly and Installation — Features such as a reference edges, locating pins, mounting tabs, and connectors can be integrated directly into the rail design, shortening assembly time and ensuring alignment at installation.
- Reduced Weight — The number one benefit of custom machined linear rails is the amount of weight saved. This is especially critical to the aerospace industry, but can also be an advantage within a range of medical, ergonomic, and industrial equipment.
Custom linear slide motor mounts and their benefits
PBC Linear offers a variety of standard mounting plates and kits for a range of motors, but for OEM equipment designers, specialized motor mounts can offer distinct design advantages.
Having a custom motor mounting bracket designed for a Mini-Rail or Uni-Guide® linear slide can make the assembly process easier due to the elimination of components and fasteners. This also provides more rigidity and less potential play in the system. A one-piece bracket can also be configured in such a way that it adds protection for the coupler. Finally, added tapped holes can make the addition of sensors and brackets a simple, integrated part of the bracket design.
Custom linear bearings retrofitted with Simplicity
Another example of customization has been demonstrated in the wood working industry. For this particular wood working industry example, a manufacturer was using a commercial wood sander for fast sanding of large furniture. The roller bearings that had been fitted into the oscillating mechanism of the sander were failing weekly. The PBC Linear solution was to design an optimized bearing assembly that would rock along with the motion of the cam system, completely eliminating misalignment issues. We used an internal, periodic lubrication system to facilitate smooth oscillating motion. This extended the life of the system from one week to over a year!
Read more on this in our application story about Simplicity linear bearings in the woodworking industry, or find out more about more about customization by downloading the custom linear bearings data sheet.
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