Intech Power-Core Thermoplastics Engineering Blog

Simon Barrell

Recent Posts

Still Lubricating your Rack and Pinion System?

Posted by Simon Barrell on May 13, 2011 1:52:00 PM

Lubricating a rack and pinion gear drive is often done manually. In industries, such as in food processing or packaging, where frequent washdowns are required, or where the gears are difficult to access, lubrication may be done only infrequently. Automated lubrication systems represent additional cost and require regular monitoring as they can clog up.

Intech Power-CoreTM gears do not require lubrication, reduce noise, and transmit motion with higher efficiency. The gears are precision machined from Intech’s Power-Core material with integral metal core for a secure shaft attachment. For wash down applications the core is available in stainless steel.

An important factor in designing today’s high speed machines is low inertia especially in systems where reversing motion is required. Intech Power-Core gears are up to 7x lighter compared to steel, absorb shock and vibration when movement in one direction is reversed,  allowing higher machine speeds without sacrificing performance or wear life.

Intech engineers review each application and using a proprietary gear calculation, will advise the customer about the expected life of the gear. In many instances engineers are able to suggest design modification significantly improving the gear’s wear life. Intech rack and pinion gears can be found in bakery conveyors, position devices on packaging machines, cutting mechanisms on plastic bottle blow machines or on long gantry motion systems, to name a few.

Power-Core gear for bakery conveyor system  Power-CoreTM gear for bakery conveyor system

Tags: Power-Core gears, lubricating gear, rack and pinion system, washdown application, shock and vibration, gear wear life, automated lubrication system

Electrically insulated gear box for electrolytic metal deposition

Posted by Simon Barrell on Mar 28, 2011 11:53:00 AM

To increase the capacity of their metal deposition furnaces with typically one cathode and one anode, we were approached by a metal refining company to design an electrically insulated gearbox that would rotate a multitude of electrodes suspended in a electrolyte solution. The design called for three stationary and one rotating cathodes and three rotating anodes.  In the electrolytic process, exotic metal is transferred from the cathodes to the anodes and the rotating movement ensured an even deposition of the metallic particles.

The task was twofold, to rotate and electrically insulate in the gear box cathodes and anodes suspended in the electrolyte solution. Picture 1 shows the final solution. Intech engineers designed a planetary gear arrangement using Intech Power-Core™ gears with 316 stainless steel core, mating with a stainless steel sun gear. The drive gear was connected to one of the planetary gears. The electrodes are inserted through the extended, hollow gear hubs and clamped in place.

electrically insulated gear box lower plate

Picture 1) Intech Power-Core™ lower and upper plate (not shown) were used to anchor shafts with bearings and to electrically insulate them.

The electrical current is applied to the protruding electrical ends. To provide precise gear mashing and good gear life, precision SS bearings were pressed onto the hubs. While Power-Core gears have insulating properties, the electrical current could still escape through the hub/bearing/housing connection. To insulate the current, two Power-Core cover plates were precision machined to construct a housing for the gear box.  The Power-Core gear box was then mounted on the metal cover of the furnace, see Picture 2.

electrically insulated gear box

Picture 2) Power-CoreTM electrically insulated gear box is mounted on the metal cover of the furnace.

In an earlier design, Picture 3 below, with a central drive and anodes and cathodes rotating, ceramic bearings were used to insulate the gear carrying plate.  Using Power-Core plates and sealed SS bearings to anchor the gears in the gear box housing proved less costly and more reliable in the harsh conditions present in the electrolytic metal deposition environment.

Main electrical properties of Intech Power-Core

  • Volume resistivity at 10e10 to 10e14 (
  • Dielectric strength at 16-17kV/mm
  • Dielectric constant of 4.0 (air dry), 50Hz)


ceramic bearings gear box

Picture 3) In an earlier design ceramic bearings were used to insulate the gear carrying plate

Tags: Power-Core gears, electrically insulated, gear box, gear life, metal deposition, stainless steel core, stainless steel bearings

Stainless steel chain plating drum drive replaced by lube free gears

Posted by Simon Barrell on Jan 31, 2011 2:22:00 PM

One of our customers, who use an aggressive liquid bath in a plating process for coating metal parts, was experiencing a frequent breaking of the stainless steel chain drive which was corroding in the highly aggressive environment.

The parts are loaded into a large plating drum with a mesh exterior, which is then lowered into a tank containing a highly corrosive solution and heated to high temperatures between 120°F – 150°F. After coating, a series of cleaning and coating cycles are repeated across a battery of baths. A motor engages the drum drive, which needs to rotate slowly and steadily while carrying a high load into each step of the cleaning and coating process. The heavy metal parts in the drum can shift suddenly as the drum rotates, causing heavy shock load to be absorbed on the drive. The stainless steel chain, weakened by corrosion would give up under the shock load.

Intech engineers designed a large lubrication free Intech Power-Core™ gear and included a circular series of 2” diameter cast in ports made of Inconel™ in order to securely attach the gear to the drum. They also integrated a Power-Core bearing block in the shaft.

The Intech gear is resistant to the corrosive environment and was designed to absorb the sudden shock load, and proved to offer substantial savings to the customer.

Plating drum gears

Tags: Power-Core gears, lubrication-free, shock load, stainless steel, high load capacity, chain drive, plating drum

Roller Assembly Technology that Effortlessly Opens Doors & Partitions

Posted by Simon Barrell on Jan 27, 2011 12:31:00 PM

Manufacturers and designers of precision sliding doors and indoor/outdoor architectural partitions are always searching for rollers that offer quiet performance and ease of operation to meet the customer’s demand for effortless, noise-free operation.

Intech Power-Core™ rollers were originally designed for demanding, high speed, linear motion devices, but have proven to be an ideal solution for use in opening doors and partitions. Intech Power-Core™ rollers and trolley systems have been designed to resist flat development, they will not absorb moisture, and do not wear out the rail. The durable, dimensionally stable tire material carries high load and retains strength over a wide temperature range (-40ºF to +140ºF).

The roller is assembled using a proprietary thermotechnology, rather than injection molding, to ensure precision and stable configuration. When combined with a precision roller bearing, this process creates properties that account for a very quiet and smooth ride.

Power-Core Track and Trolley System
INTECH Power-CoreTM Track and Trolley System

Manufacturers and designers of sliding weight-bearing products have found that Intech Power-Core™ rollers offer a unique excellence in ergonomic presentation, stability and performance under virtually any temperature, moisture or load condition. The Load capacity per trolley is 200 lb, while on our Aluminum Track and Trolley set the capacity is 400 lb.

Applications for Intech Power-Core™ roller and trolley systems include fine furniture, cabinets, sliding doors, office partitions, luxury boats, airplane cargo doors, oversize doors for commercial and industrial refrigeration units, and automatic doors for trains and commercial buildings.

Our team of in-house engineers review each application for suitability and provide expected wheel life calculations. Engineering support and assistance extends to the complete shaft and trolley system design.

Tags: Power-Core, Linear Motion Devices, Precision Linear Slides, Intech rollers, Tensile strength, Trolley Assembly, Track and Trolley System

Why Do Intech Power-Core Gears Last?

Posted by Simon Barrell on Jan 19, 2011 3:50:00 PM

Rugged, high performance Intech Power-Core™ gears, rollers, and cam followers are individually calculated and designed from high performance Power-Core™ material to meet each engineer’s specifications for durability, performance, stability, and wear life.  Intech engineers analyze the application and provide gear tooth and anti backlash design modifications that have been developed specifically for plastic.  Company president, Georg Bartosch asserts “We will not sell a product unless we can first assure ourselves, on paper, that the product will work.”

Intech Power-Core gears

Intech Power-Core™ gears

Engineering calculations, developed in conjunction with a leading university, provide the wear-life and performance assurance the design engineer and OEM depend upon to gain a significant competitive advantage in product marketing and plant/equipment maintenance.

Intech Power-Core™ gears, rollers, and cam followers feature a very dense, stress-free, self-lubricating, homogeneous crystalline structure.  The Power-Core™ material does not absorb moisture, offers exceptional impact strength (shock load) resists most chemicals, operates in temperatures from 40º to +160ºF, can be safely cast around metal cores, and can be machined, if desired, by using a fluid coolant.

The integral metal core allows a higher torque transmission via a secure gear attachment to the shaft.  In addition, the metal core dissipates generated heat and reduces backlash requirements to make the gear quieter.

Each application is unique.  With over 20 years of experience in designing plastic components, Intech engineers begin each project by asking “what if” questions  and become involved with the design process.

Tags: Power-Core, wear life, shock load, anti-backlash

Power-Core Screen Support in Fish Crowder for Oregon River Project

Posted by Simon Barrell on Jan 17, 2011 1:26:00 PM

As a result of writing these blog posts, we realize that increasingly we have become an integral part of projects that impact the environment in a positive way. Intech appreciates the trust of corporations and government organizations alike to use our Power-Core™ products for such projects.

Intech was approached by consultants working with the US Army Corps of Engineers to design special screen supports for an Adult Fish Collection Facility at the Cougar Dam and Reservoir. This facility is located on the South Fork of the McKenzie River directly downstream of the dam in Oregon.

The Fish Crowder barrier uses Intech screen supports made of machined stainless steel, these ensure safe operation and a long life in the collection facility. The crowder is used in the concrete raceway for cleaning, grading and herding fish together for loading tank trucks or pumping into other collection ponds through pipes. This fish collection facility is due for completion in May 2010.

Fish Crowder barrier with Intech Screen Supports

Fish Crowder barrier with Intech Screen Supports

You can read about other related Fisheries and Wildlife Resources projects at the US Bureau of the interior web site:

Tags: Power-Core, fish crowder, screen supports, machined stainless steel

Self-Lubricating Plastic Gear System Replaces Pulley Drive-Train

Posted by Simon Barrell on Jan 13, 2011 10:54:00 AM

When Dexter Magnetic Technologies introduced a dual axis robotic manipulator to control sputtering in the manufacturing of computer hard drives, it was an instant success that relied upon a sophisticated drive and pulley system that all too quickly developed a troublesome, excessive wear problem that was resolved with a solution presented by Intech Corporation.

 Chris Ras, Product Development Manager at Dexter Magnetic Technologies, describes the drive system as “consisting of two single sided timing pulleys configured into two independent drive sections, each of which utilizes two single-sided timing belts.“  During tests at a customer’s plant, the faster of the two compact belt drives required frequent and precise tensioning to eliminate belt stretching and excessive wear.

Ras, in exploring a gear design as an alternative to the belt drive, contacted Tody Mihov, our Engineering Manager at Intech Corporation, to discuss how self-lubricating plastic Intech gears might work into his design.  The application offered limited space, featured both high torque and reversing torque, and the gears needed to be retrofitted into existing equipment on location at the customer’s facility.

Upon reviewing load data using a proprietary gear calculation developed by Intech in conjunction with a leading university, Mihov determined that the Intech gear would work.  He then decided to maximize the load carrying capacity of the Power-Core™ gears by applying an innovative Intech developed plus/plus gear mesh modification to the gear train.  With the addition of two stainless steel drive gears, an Intech Power-Core™ idler gear that has an integral stainless steel core and a proprietary backlash-free plastic gear design, the desired smooth manipulator motion was assured.  In addition, a special idler gear shaft was designed to provide an easy, field-ready retrofit.

An in-house test was constructed to determine how the Intech solution performed relative to visible wear patterns and drive efficiency.  As per his expectation, Ras determined that drive efficiency increased by a full 15%!  He reasoned that this was achieved in part by eliminating the radial stresses that belt tensioning transferred to the bearing.  With the Intech Power-Core™ gears running stress-free, the only force transmitting onto the mating gear teeth was the torque, which traveled on a precision-machined pitch line.

With the retrofit Intech gear replacement system in place to manage reliability of the rotary axis, Dexter Magnetic Technologies has gained even greater industry attention.

Self-lubricating, Anti-backlash Gear Solution

Self-lubricating, Anti-backlash Gear Solution

Tags: Power-Core gears, self-lubricating gears, Gear Calculation

Cam Followers for RT Light Testers in Can Making Production Line

Posted by Simon Barrell on Aug 27, 2010 11:26:00 AM

In a high speed can making production line, light inspection is required to find pin holes and split flanges after the necking process. Once cans have been coated and sealed, these finished cans are tested for leaks using a light tester, which can detect holes 0.002” wide, smaller than a human hair, and also spot cracked flanges as small as 0.015”.

When Intech iCamFollowers® are installed on the light tester ram they ensure that 3,000+ inspections can be performed per minute, more than sufficient to keep up with the high speed can production line and offer several important benefits.

After installation, the lubrication lines originally used to grease the metal cam followers can be disconnected, cutting down on periodic maintenance and possible contamination of the can. Another important benefit is the fact that the cam propelling the ram back and forth is now protected from wear by the IPC tire.

Fitted with precision ball bearings the Intech iCamFollowers® are easy rolling and the plastic tire does absorb shock and vibration for overall smoother performance.

The Intech iCamFollowers® have also been running successfully for many years in the necking operation on Belvac neckers, both on rams made by Intech, the light weight, self-lubricating square ram, as well as on the original Belvac rams.Light tester and cam followers

Tags: cam follower, cam followers, Self-lubricating, shock load, vibration, can making, icamfollower, light tester, necking operation

Drive sprocket for Escalator handrail extends maintenance intervals

Posted by Simon Barrell on Aug 10, 2010 5:06:00 PM

“Shut down for maintenance, use the stairs please.”shut escalator

We have grown accustomed to signs like these in public places like airports, hotels or department stores. The reason for the maintenance or repair shut down is often wear or broken teeth on the main driving sprocket.

The self-lubricating, precision machined Intech Power-Core™ escalator driving sprocket helps to extend the time intervals for scheduled maintenance, is wear resistant, absorbs shock and vibration, and reduces noise for a smooth and quiet ride. They are also suitable for outdoor use as the sprocket material does not absorb moisture and teeth do not break in sub-zero temperatures, when other plastic materials become brittle.

EscalatorDrive Sprocket for Handrail

Tags: maintenance, Power-Core, precision machined, Self-lubricating, moisture absorption, sub-zero temperatures, drive sprocket, escalator

Low inertia Power-Core spur gear increases caplet machine output

Posted by Simon Barrell on Jul 27, 2010 2:18:00 PM

One of our customers, who manufactures packaging machines for the pharmaceutical industry to produce caplets, sought to improve its competitive standing by eliminating the need to lubricate the 16” cast iron main drive gear and replacing it with a lubrication free Intech Power-Core™ gear.

Upon installation of the lubrication free Intech gear, the engineers ramped up the output to 600 caplets per minute (cpm), the industry standard, and discovered that there was no vibration previously experienced with the heavy cast iron gear. Encouraged by the performance of the low inertia Intech Power-Core™ gear, they increased the output to 700…800…, all the way to 1200 cpm. Even at this speed the machine was running smoothly and without vibration.

This was in contrast with all the previous experience using the cast iron gear which reached its critical RPM around 700 RPM, at which point the machine shook violently, and the reason why the output had been established at 600 cpm.

The customer settled on an output of 800 caplets/min as a standard for the company’s brand, a 25% increase over competitive machines. The first reward came shortly after introduction of the new machine. A company producing caplets used in automotive air bags sought to increase its capacity by 2400 caplets/min. Our customer was able to satisfy that demand with three machines that don’t require lubrication, where all its competitors quoted four machines that required constant lubrication and frequent shut down for maintenance.

Low inertia often becomes the dominant, albeit unexpected benefit of changing to self-lubricating Power-Core™ gears. The main drive in the DaVinci surgical robot is another good example.

Low Inertia Spur Gear Installed in Caplet Machine

Tags: Power-Core gears, vibration, self-lubricating gears, low inertia, machine speed, packaging machine, Spur Gear