Ball Bearings Rod Ends
In our previous blog, we shared some interesting application stories for ball bearing rod ends beyond their originally intended use in aerospace. In this blog, we will share additional examples supporting the wide range of uses for these specialty rod ends. This time, we’ll look at the industrial automation/robotics and medical fields.
The use case here is very similar to animatronics, which we discussed previously. The need is almost identical: factory automation equipment requires fluid, precise and repeatable, predictable movement. Historically, ball bearings were used, but did not provide the required levels of precision and control. Ball bearing rod ends to the rescue again! They allow for angular motion, smooth rotation and much better control. The additional benefits do come at a higher component cost. However, these same benefits help reduce costs elsewhere. For instance, the bearing doesn’t wear down other parts, thus extending their life and reducing maintenance costs for the end user. Increased reliability also reduces warranty and repair fees for the equipment manufacturer. Similar to the animatronics application, the lower torque means you can reduce the horsepower, and the cost of the motor. While the bearing component cost may go up, overall system and lifetime costs go down.
A major medical supply company uses one of our ball bearing rod ends for their blood diffuser equipment. Let’s look at how the system works. After blood is drawn into a vial, it goes into a rack to be processed. The rack is then articulated very slowly back and forth, like a see-saw, to separate the blood down into its components for testing. As you can imagine, this requires slow, controlled and precise motion. For a while, hoping to cut costs, the manufacturer tried substituting the ball bearing rod end with a maintenance free plane bearing. They selected one with Teflon, which delivers smooth motion, without grease. However, they soon found they lost precision, and repeatability from one bearing to another. This is not unusual, since range can vary from part to part with conventional HEIM style bearings. Above all, the machines needed the return of predictable torque. The manufacturer switched back to the ball bearing rod end, since tight tolerance is at the heart of the product and the results are again consistent, precise, and torque is predictable.
A Solution for Demanding Applications
The accuracy and consistency of a ball bearing rod end make it worth considering for more demanding commercial and industrial uses. When considering cost, you must look beyond the component’s price tag, and take a longer view and consider the larger equation. In many cases, the overall system or lifetime cost may be equal, if not lower, when compared to a different bearing that doesn’t perform as well.
So, don’t let the word aerospace scare you! If your application requires both precision and tight control, ball bearing rod ends should be carefully considered. Further, for us, they are a standard part. We make them, stock them, and supply to general distribution. All types of customers are using them to solve various application challenges. They could be the solution to your tougher challenges – regardless of industry.
Take a look at PIC's selection of Ball Bearing Rod Ends : HEIM Ball Bearing Rod Ends
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