Intech Power-Core Thermoplastics Engineering Blog

5 Advantages of Plastic Rack and Pinions in Motion Applications

Posted by Alexander Bartosch on May 21, 2014 4:00:00 PM

 Polymer Eliminates Contamination in Linear Motion Systems 

In an ideal world, linear motion systems would run only in squeaky clean operating environments. In the real world, linear motion systems usually have to run in plants with varying degrees of contamination, chemical exposures or moisture. These less-than-ideal conditions can shorten the lifespan of linear motion systems that rely solely on metal drive components—particularly rack-and-pinions.

KLEENLine conveyor with Intech Gear self lubricating rack and pinion

(Pictured Above: Intech Power-Core™ Gear and Stainless Steel Rack in a High Speed Retractable Bakery conveyor - Read More Here )

To meet the challenges posed by real-world operating conditions, we have designed and delivered many rack-and-pinion systems based on our Power-Core™ polymer.  Typically these consist of an Intech Power-Core™ gear with a stainless steel core and a stainless steel rack, though some applications have been best served by a Power-Core rack and a stainless steel pinion. 

Either way, we’ve found that use of polymers has five key advantages in rack-and-pinion applications:

  1. Eliminates lubrication. As a self-lubricating polymer, Power-Core™ does away with the need to apply lubricants over the life of the rack and pinion. The elimination of lubricant eliminates a key source of contamination in sensitive applications such as packaging, pharmaceutical, semiconductor or food processing. 
  2. Extends wear life. Power-Core and stainless-steel together offer an extended wear life and typically last for several years longer than all-metal designs. The user of Power-Core has also allowed us to create some design features that further extend wear life—such as pitch line control feature prevents pinions from bottoming out.
  3. Prevents corrosion. Traditional rack and pinion designs with metal gearing are subject to rust and corrosion, particularly in washdown applications. As a polymer, Power-Core does not corrode at all.
  4. Remains dimensionally stable.  Thanks to the physical properties of its base polymer, Power-Core does not suffer from dimensional and tensile property changes that affect conventional polymers when exposed to moisture, chemicals or elevated temperatures. Power-Core's base polymer has one of the lowest moisture absorption rates of any engineering plastic. Power-Core stands up to a wide range of industrial chemicals.  And Power-Core exhibits about 50% better high-temperature performance than comparable engineering polymers. 
  5. Improves motion control. Power-Core can produce rack-and-pinions that operate both smoothly and quietly as the rack moves back and forth, reducing noise by about 6 dBa compared to all meal components. The reason is that polymer has intrinsic vibration and shock load damping properties.  Power-Core components also weigh about 85% less than a comparable metal component. In motion applications, this weight reduction translates directly to reductions in moving mass and inertia.

Rack-and-pinions based on plastics components do have to overcome the perception that they won’t be as durable or carry the same loads as the all-metal designs familiar to motion control engineers. However, we’ve proven that perception false time and time again. 

Our experience with gear design and predictive analysis has allowed us to design polymer rack-and-pinion systems that can and do outlast all-metal designs in highly-loaded applications. To learn more, give us a call.

Contact an Engineer

Tags: rack and pinion system, self-lubricating gears, gear design, r gear life calculation, custom gear design

Next Generation Motion Control and Engineering Meet in a Short Film

Posted by Alexander Bartosch on Sep 25, 2013 1:37:00 PM

In a recently released film named BOX, Bot & Dolly teamed up with the design director of Tron to take engineering design software and motion control technology to the next level. These robotic motion control systems have many other equally astounding applications in manufacturing. The precision of these systems is terrific, we hope you enjoy the video above.

Intech has long worked with the leaders in motion control to create elegant solutions to motion systems. As such our components play a large part in quiet, self lubricating, and maintenance free motion control. Recently we began working with pick and place robotic systems to eliminate the noise and wear associated with constantly operating robotics.

Bot and Dolly's Kuka systems robots are a great example of where Intech Power-Core components could one day reduce wear and noise and potentially improve the live production quality of a CG projected and robot controlled screen show. Our Current work in motion control has been focused on improving linear and rotary motion with our patent pending iCamfollowers, a quite rolling, self lubricating, maintenance free cam follower. As well as, our self lubricating cams for cam driven mechanical operations.

These two advancements in material application allow us to create or retrofit components in the most advanced mechanical systems on the planet. When coupled with our long term advancements in self lubricating gears, we are proud to offer a complete engineering solution for advanced self lubricating motion control and power transmission systems.

We look forward to one day seeing a BOX type production at our local theaters and hopefully helping make the motion as silent and worry free as possible.

Download our packaging design case study below to see how Intech components have already improved volume, speed, and longevity of production lines.

Download the design case study

Tags: self-lubricating gears, BOX Bot & Dolly, self lubricating motion control, Quiet cam followers, self lubricating cams

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

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

Composite Worm Gears Extend Wear Life in Tough Applications

Posted by Simon Barrell on Jan 7, 2010 2:23:00 PM

Intech engineers are frequently asked for help to determine worm gear size, design parameters and to make wear-life projections using our proprietary gear calculations. As a result of these calculations, Intech Power-Core™ composite worm gears are chosen to replace industry-standard bronze gears in demanding operations to increase transmission efficiency with quieter, longer-wearing performance.

Intech Power-Core Worm Gears

Intech Power-Core Worm Gears

Power-Core material does not require special grade oil or frequent oil changes and the composite material does not generate abrasive particles which become suspended in the oil as a contaminant that contributes to wear. The tough, self-lubricating properties of the composite gear material enable Intech Power-Core worm drives to consistently outlast conventional bronze worm gears.

We completed a 1,000 hour test that compared gear performance between the Intech Power-Core gear and a case-hardened ground steel worm gear, and the results confirmed the capacity of Power-Core material to absorb shock load and vibrations. Test data showed an average noise reduction of 6 dB, with up to an 8% increase in gear transmission efficiency and no wear was detected on the 6.5 PD Power-Core worm gear.

In applications such as conveyors for glass washing or light load semi-conductor manufacturing machinery, the Intech Power-Core worm gears run with only light grease lubrication, or completely dry. Even in high torque applications that result in friction, the self-lubricating Power-Core worm gear can run for extended periods without lubrication.

The mating worm shaft can be made of conventional materials utilizing standard manufacturing methods. The low-maintenance Power-Core composite worm gears use readily available machine oil to lubricate the gear box, instead of more expensive specialized synthetic oil that is usually recommended for bronze worm gears.

Tags: Power-Core, wear life, composite material, gear box, shock load, vibration, self-lubricating gears, bronze gear, Gear Calculation, gear life calculation

Self-Lubricating cam followers replace steel in outdoor applications

Posted by Simon Barrell on Nov 16, 2009 11:09:00 AM

Our customers have been asking us to help them with components for machines that will operate in ever harsher conditions. Intech iCam Followers® and Power-Core™ guide rollers feature a unique crystalline structure that is resistant to flow under static load, and provides long-wearing, non-lubricated performance. The devices do not wear out the rail, do not absorb moisture and, when fitted with stainless steel bearings, are suitable for wash downs and harsh and corrosive environments.

Unlike other plastic material, Power-Core™ does not become brittle in low temperatures. iCam Followers® and Power-Core guide rollers reduce maintenance and down time by retaining good bearing fit from -40° to 160° F, retaining elasticity, and absorbing shock and vibration in sub-zero temperatures. The devices are not only quiet and easy rolling, they do not generate metal particles, which can further increase down time potential.

Intech Rollers for High Security Door
Intech Rollers for High Security Door

Intech Power-Core rollers, cam followers, and trolleys are assembled from precision machined high performance, self lubricating engineered plastic tires and quality roller bearings. The plastic part of the roller fully envelopes and embraces the bearing outer racer which in turn provides high capacity to carry side loads.

The Power-Core rollers and iCam Followers® are available in stock sizes with load capacity from 60 to 500 lbs. Trolley assemblies feature aluminum track and trolley systems with attachments. Custom sizes and dimensions and tire shapes can be developed to meet specific applications.

Tags: Power-Core, self-lubricating gears, guide rollers, Power-Core rollers, Trolley Assembly, low temperatures, plastic tires, bearing fit, iCamFollowers, roller bearings, trolley assemblies

Power-Core Custom Helical Gear Drive For Food Processing Machine

Posted by Simon Barrell on Jul 13, 2009 12:58:00 PM

July 13, 2009 by intechpower

Intech Corporation is committed to lowering the impact of manufacturing on the environment. We like to think of our self-lubricating plastic gears, rollers and cam followers products as “Clean, Green and Lean”.

Recently Intech has been working with a food processing machine manufacturer to improve performance in their semi-frozen and frozen vegetable product slicer machines. Intech designed a Helical Gear Drive with a polygon bore to meet the strict criteria for hygiene and precision which the customer’s team required for its slicing wheel gearbox. Given the importance in food processing of reducing the likelihood of bacteria accumulation, the Power-Core™ material and its cast-in stainless steel core was machined to create a tri-lobe polygon profile for the input gear, this would prevent such build up occurring.

Sanitary Belt Gearbox resized 600 
Helical Gear Drive with polygon Bore


We also assuaged concerns our customer had in terms of the strength of teeth on the helical gears and their ability to handle repeated breaking and stopping of machines over continuous 24-hour run cycles.

Tags: Power-Core, self-lubricating gears, Helical gear drive, helical gears, knurled metal core