Intech Power-Core Thermoplastics Engineering Blog

Georg Bartosch

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Explore The Ways Our Large Diameter Gear Integrated Bearings Shine in Difficult Environments

Posted by Georg Bartosch on Jan 13, 2021 4:49:23 PM

When the design calls for a large bearing—for example, to support a large outer diameter (OD) ring gear—choosing a sturdy yet lightweight mechanism with the properties and stability for reliable performance can be tough. Finding an appropriate bearing that can operate in cleanroom, food processing or vacuum environments, with all their hygienic requirements, can be an even greater challenge.

The list of bearing considerations is lengthy. It includes accuracy and rotational tolerances, load handling capabilities, maintenance and cost—just to name just a few. One factor that’s central to all of these considerations is the construction of the bearing and its constituent components. Not only must the bearing support accurate, efficient motion, but it has to satisfy the need for lighter designs, which has been a constant trend across many industries and applications. And if the bearing’s intended environment is a vacuum, it can’t disperse any contaminants. At the same time, lubrication isn’t an option, making your material selection critical.

Unique Design and Materials Excel in Special-Duty Applications

At Intech, we have expertise in designing and manufacturing self-lubricating, lightweight machine components that can operate in difficult conditions. Drawing on decades of experience with designing gears, guide rollers and cam followers using polymer materials, we recently developed a versatile, large gear-bearing unit that is well-suited for hygienic or difficult environments, as well as for other applications where precise rotary motion and lightweight designs are essential. This bearing features a novel design that combines two components into one unit: a large aluminum ring gear driven by a pinion and supported by several, individually mounted guide rollers. The large ring gear is typically made from aluminum, and the pinion and supporting guide rollers are made from our Power-Core™ polyamide-based thermoplastic material. When the unit has to operate in vacuum, the gear is made from stainless steel.

The large ring may have an internal gear, or the teeth can be machined outside the ring, and the drive gear is a Power-Core pinion with integral metal core. Spaced around the perimeter of the ring gear are the supporting cam followers that both locate the gear in place, axially and radially, and enable the rotating motion. (Picture 1) By using an engineered polymer as the bearing surface, these cam followers can withstand large forces, have a long wear-life and offer many additional advantages.

Intech Large Gear Bearing

Picture 1: Design principle of an iCam® support of a rotating gear ring with internal gear teeth.

Hybrid Construction Provides Many Advantages

The Power-Core engineered polymer offers several advantages versus other materials. It can handle high mechanical loads that are prohibitive to other plastics, and it even exhibits higher strength than similar injection-molded polymers. In fact, some of the larger structural parts we’ve designed have been able to withstand continuous forces of several metric tons. Despite our advanced polymer’s high strength, it’s also very lightweight.

When the unit’s weight and inertia is a concern, the ring gear is made from aluminum. Together in this unique design, the aluminum and polymer materials create a lighter gear/bearing unit and deliver a host of benefits for many applications:

  • Precision rotation. The precision machined outer guide rollers have a maximum OD tolerance of 0.004 inches and closely match the pitch diameter tolerances on the large ring gear. Additionally, any slag can be tightened up with selectively placed eccentric guide rollers.
  • No backlash. Besides the traditional methods to reduce or eliminate backlash in gears, our engineers developed several tooth mesh modifications for reducing or eliminating backlash, specifically designed to take advantage of the Power-Core’s elastic properties. Additionally, the Power-Core pinion features a cast-in metal core, which allows a secure attachment to a shaft and reduces up to 50% of the thermal expansion of the plastic portion of the gears. The polymer remains dimensionally stable under varying process conditions, including moisture, contributing to backlash-free rotation.
  • No need for lubrication. The polymer material we use for the gears and cam followers is maintenance-free, eliminating the need for lubrication even when running on aluminum, carbon or stainless steel.
  • No metal particulate contamination. Our Power-Core gears, cam followers or guide rollers do not wear out metal. As a result, they do not generate metal particles—which is an important feature in many industries and processes.
  • Reduced noise. Because of its shock absorbing properties and precision machined surfaces, Power-Core polymer reduces noise in gears by up to 6 dBa and up to 10 dBa compared to metal cam followers.
  • Lower cost. Using individual polymer cam followers to support a large ring gear eliminates the cost of, typically custom designed, large metal bearing. Further, Power-Core pinion and cam followers save money in the long term over metal parts because they don’t wear, corrode or require lubrication.

In addition, our Power-Core large gear-bearing design is especially suited for harsh environments, including vacuum conditions and environments subject to washdown.

Optimize Components to Fulfill Your Needs

If you need a large bearing that must meet strict requirements, achieve a long operating life or run without lubrication, chances are a large metal bearing isn't an option. And if you’ve never worked with an integrated-type bearing or one that’s made with our Power-Core material, you likely have questions.

We’re ready to assist you with designing your large diameter gear-bearing and can help you make predictable life-cycle calculations on both plastic or metal components. Our gear life calculator, for instance, uses an algorithm specific to Power-Core gears that lets you estimate the number of hours the gear will last in your application, based on torque, RPM, shock load and other operating parameters. The design of our cam followers and guide rollers is based on similar calculations.

For more information about our Power-Core large diameter integrated gear-bearing technology, or to get started with our wear life calculation, contact an engineer.


Contact an Engineer.

Lube-Free Rotary Positioning for Cleanrooms and More

Posted by Georg Bartosch on Oct 3, 2012 3:58:00 PM

Intech’s Power-Core® rollers have found uses in applications ranging from industrial machines to transportation. Most of them have seen use in linear motion systems of one kind or another, but there’s no reason that these gravity cast nylon 12 rollers cannot be incorporated into rotary motion systems such as our new rotary index table.

iCam Turntable resized 600.gif resized 600Designed for integration into third-party servo systems, this new rotary index table makes extensive use of rollers and gearing made from Power-Core gravity cast nylon 12. The table’s drive mechanism consists of a pinion-driven ring gear whose helix tooth profile eliminates wear and backlash. The gravity cast nylon 12 gear is machined from a polymer blank that has been cast around an aluminum ring. This ring serves as a circular rail and as the mounting surface for the payload.The Power-Core nylon 12 rollers, which mount on the unit’s base plate, support the rotating gear and integrated mounting surface. They feature enclosed stainless steel bearings, making the unit suitable for washdown and other corrosive environments.

The use of gravity cast nylon 12 for the drive and bearing elements helps this rotary table outperform all-metal designs in several ways:

  •  Low wear without lubrication. This design avoids the metal-on-metal contact that can shorten the working life of motion systems. The only contact is between two Power- Core nylon components in the case of the drive mechanism and between Power-Core and aluminum in the case of the supporting rails. Power-Core nylon is formulated with an internal lubricant, so no external lubricant is needed. The metal bearings are lubed for life too.
  • Backlash free. Power-Core gravity cast nylon 12 gears offer a couple of intrinsic advantages when it comes to reducing backlash. For one, their dimensional stability eliminates the need for the backlash compensation required by moisture-sensitive plastics. For another, the uniform crystalline structure of Power-Core nylon 12 and our gravity casting production methods produce gear blanks with very low internal stresses and uniform machining resistance. These characteristics allow very precision machining of tooth profiles that have been optimized for backlash reduction–and would be difficult to achieve in metal. 
  • Fast and smooth. The low-inertia of the gearing and
    the rollers helps the table operate at higher speeds. By producing a tighter inertia ratio between the motor and driven load, the low inertia of the Power-Core drive components also makes it easier to tune the controls for a smooth, precise motion profile, particularly when moving light payloads. 
  • Washes down, resists chemicals. Power-Core nylon 12’s dimensional stability in the presence of moisture and its thermal stability make this rotary table a good fit for washdown, high-humidity and high-temperature applications that would prohibit the use of less capable polymers. Nylon 6, for example, can exhibit a dramatic loss in tensile properties and undergo dimensional changes when exposed to moisture and high heat levels. Power-Core nylon 12 also offers excellent chemical resistance compared to nylon 6 and other polymers used in power transmission applications. 
  • Cleanroom friendly. Because Power-Core nylon 12 resists wear and does not throw off the particulate associated with externally lubricated metal power transmission components, clean room use is a natural fit for this rotary table design. 
  • Scaleable. By manipulating the size of the gear and roller components, the table design can be scaled to handle payloads ranging from ounces to tons.

Read More About Indexing Tables

Tags: washdown application, cam follower, cam followers, cast nylon 12, Clean rooms, PA12GC, anti-backlash backlash gears, Index table

Energy efficiency improves export chances - linear motion products

Posted by Georg Bartosch on Mar 30, 2011 11:52:00 AM

I recently attended a round table discussion with Mrs. Beryl Blecher, Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs U.S. Mission to the European Union based in Brussels. One topic stuck in my mind – energy efficiency. Mrs. Blecher emphasized that energy savings are very important to European governments, industrial buyers and consumers alike. She also said that US manufacturers often lose in competition with European manufacturers as their equipment does not exhibit the same energy efficiency, perhaps even if the price is lower. Here are links to details about the energy ruling by the EU commission you might find useful.

Current action plan

New action plan coming

CSEU Market Research Report   (Please note that EU law on energy performance of buildings has since been adopted).

While it is a somewhat lengthy reading, it speaks of ambitions goals of 20% in saving energy by 2020 and I believe, points out a big opportunity for US manufacturers. The lower value of the Dollar is already giving us a head start and energy efficiency built into your equipment could help to close the sale.

Relying on our 30 year history, we at Intech Corporation would like to be a part of your efforts to design and produce energy efficient equipment by providing low inertia, high efficiency gears and linear motion products.

iCamFollowers for energy efficiency High efficiency gears

Do you have an application we can help you analyze to see where we can identify energy efficiencies? The analysis is free. Please give me a call at 201-767-8066 or Toll-Free on 1-877-218-2650 and ask for Georg.

Tags: Linear Motion Devices, energy efficiency, low inertia, high efficiency gears