Counterfeit rolling bearings are a growing industry issue. To the untrained eye, replica products are increasingly difficult to distinguish from genuine OEM bearings, which means that ever-more users are suffering from the consequences of using counterfeits. A case in point is highlighted at the Technical University of Dortmund (TU Dortmund), which was recently tasked with conducting research into enhancing the distillation process (the purification of liquids through repeated heating and cooling). The project was undertaken in close co-operation with a well-known Chinese university, which already had experience of the process. TU Dortmund´s Chinese partners built the pilot plant for the project but, when it arrived in Germany, a number of unexpected problems soon became evident.
Distillation is deployed when the components of a liquid mixture can be successfully separated as a result of different boiling points. Purity increases in line with how often the process is repeated. In industrial production, however, spatial expansion of the columns can prove restrictive. Furthermore, throughput can be limited due to gravitational acceleration. For these reasons, an idea was put forward by TU Dortmund to research and further-develop a more flexible and space-saving distillation process, one which is already being used within eastern Asia´s chemical industry.
Partnering with an established university in China, TU Dortmund wanted to build a pilot plant. It was agreed that this three-stage modular system (with a rotor diameter of about 90 cm) would be manufactured in China. Once built, the plant passed acceptance tests in China before being transferred and set-up in Dortmund. However, during the first system test runs, it became apparent that the trials were not successful. Less than 20 minutes into the first test, audible knocking sounds emanated from the drive train despite only running at half speed.
The drive system utilises a 5 kW motor with a V-belt connection to a central vertical shaft which has a maximum speed of 750 rpm. A ball bearing is used to provide support from below, with two tapered roller bearings performing a similar function from above. The bearings are also required to support some axial loads.
Initially, it was assumed that the knocking noise was a result of contact between moving parts. With this in mind, the rotors were disassembled, but the knocking persisted. Subsequently, the drive itself was disassembled, but still the cause of the knocking could not be determined. Finally, engineers at TU Dortmund removed the rolling bearings and contacted the manufacturer, NSK.
Based on the information provided, the possible cause was considered to be a design error and tension in the tapered roller bearings. Suitable adjustments were made, with greater clearance provided for the tapered roller bearings. However, once the drive had been reassembled, the next test run provided no significant improvement. What´s more, a test run of the drive without the centrifuge resulted in a temperature increase at the shaft of 80°C after just 90 minutes. Due to thermal expansion, the shaft duly seized.
Faced with this baffling failure, emphasis shifted to the quality of the tapered roller bearings, type HR 30322J. Detailed images of the bearings were sent to NSK and all became clear: the bearings were counterfeit.
The counterfeiters had gone to great lengths with the appearance of the bearings; even the NSK logo looked deceptively authentic. In fact, the only way to distinguish between the original and counterfeit bearings was to scrutinise the quality of the individual bearing components.
Disappointed but relieved to have pinpointed the issue, TU Dortmund ordered replacement bearings from an NSK authorised distributor. As a result of superior materials and production processes, test runs demonstrated that bearing and shaft temperature remained below ambient, even after nine hours of continuous operation. In addition, the drive´s cooling system was now able to function correctly, ensuring there were no more knocking sounds.
As a result of using counterfeit bearings, the project at TU Dortmund suffered delays. However, if the application had been safety-related, the consequences could have been far worse. In all cases, the message is clear: always order from reliable sources such as official distribution partners of the rolling bearing manufacturer.
NSK is a member of the World Bearing Association (WBA) and supports users in the identification of counterfeit rolling bearings.
New NORDBLOC.1 BEVEL GEAR UNITS with 50 Nm
With the two-stage NORDBLOC.1 bevel gear unit, NORD launched high performance, washdown-optimised aluminium drives for hygienic applications. Now, the drive specialist expands its successful series with smaller gear units for torques up to 50 Nm and thereby offers an efficient alternative to worm gear units – for example for smaller conveyor belts.
The new SK 9×0072.1 series has a power range from 0.12 to 1.1 kW and covers speed ratios from 3.03 to 47.67 : 1. The two-stage helical bevel gear units are characterised by high efficiencies, compact design, top reliability and long working life. The high-strength aluminium housing guarantees high rigidity and maximum durability with low weight. Additionally, the modular design provides wide application flexibility due to numerous application and mounting options.
There are two models available: SK 920072.1 and SK 930072.1. The open housing of SK 920072.1 is lightweight but nevertheless very solid due to its construction. This variant is available with a universal foot flange version. With its closed housing, the SK 930072.1 is particularly suited for applications with stringent requirements for hygiene and cleanliness. Additional protection is provided by the optionally available nsd tupH surface treatment. The standard version is equipped with a B14 flange. All versions are available with solid or hollow shafts. The motor can be mounted directly without a coupling or adapter (IEC or NEMA). Accessories including torque arms, flanges, covers and fastening elements from the UNIVERSAL series may also be used for this gear unit.
The new, compact and flexible NORDBLOC 1 bevel gear units are particularly suited for intralogistics and packaging technology, and thanks to their washdown design may also be advantageous for the food and beverage industry. The LogiDrive combines these new NORDBLOC.1 gear units with an energy-efficient IE4 synchronous motor and the NORDAC LINK field distributor for an optimally matched drive system. These standardised geared motor variants are highly efficient, and thanks to Plug & Play technology they are extremely maintenance-friendly and benefit from a considerable reduction of spare part stocks, which also results in the reduction of versions.
Precision temperature control for manufacturing
It can be a challenge to maintain efficiency in manufacturing processes that rely on rapid temperature change, they are energy intensive and will often form a natural bottle-neck in an overall process. Implementing a new control strategy that is both more accurate and responsive can therefore bring improvements to both productivity and process efficiency.
Pioneering process control company Bürkert has introduced a new modular range of products offering seamless integration of sensors, precision flow measurement devices and flow control valves that can be used to create very accurate and highly responsive temperature control systems.
Temperature controlled processes are used in a number of manufacturing industries. Some varied, but relevant examples are aluminium die casting, injection moulding, extrusion processes, and a range of food manufacturing techniques. In all cases the precise and consistent control of temperature through accurate heating and cooling is very important in terms of product quality and process efficiency.
By looking at a few examples, it is possible to understand how a modular process control platform can be used to create a tailored solution for any manufacturing process. In each case the challenges are assessed, and a combination of expert design and proven technology is used to deliver the optimum solution.
Casting the die
In the manufacture of high pressure die-cast aluminium parts, tool temperatures have a significant influence on surface finish, dimensional accuracy and the amount of finishing required. At the same time, cost-effective manufacturing requires cycle times and reliability to be optimised, which leads to a need for automated systems with the fastest practical cycle times.
Optimising this process requires a highly dynamic control system that comprises precision temperature sensors, flow control valves and isolation valves that can reliably manage the fast heating and cooling rates of the thermoregulation process. In applications that use spray cooling, it must be capable of controlling the cooling process by means of exactly regulated quantities of water, air or a mixture of the two. Similarly, tool manufacturers that need to develop complex and intricate shapes for metal and plastic moulds often use conformal cooling to ensure product quality as well as reduced cycle times.
By implementing a modular process control system, it is possible to integrate it with existing machinery and add as many sensors and control valves as necessary to deliver an ideal solution regardless of the original manufacturer. With sufficient planning and design expertise, the modular platform can also provide flexibility in the wider manufacturing process by enabling fast, efficient batch changeovers and quick adaptation for new lines.
One of the major challenges in injection moulding is to produce parts that fall from the die ready for use and do not need additional processing. Typical examples would be high-volume precision moulded components for consumer products such as LCD screen frames, phone, laptop casings and similar items.
An important contribution towards achieving this aim is made by vario-thermal control of the injection moulding tool. Only with this technique is it possible to produce plastic parts without distortion, with the right size and with high surface quality regarding gloss, haptic properties and lack of weld lines.
The main temperature regulation challenge is to enable rapid changes between hot temperatures, around 180°C during the injection phase, and cooler temperatures of approximately 100°C. Of course, this should be achieved with low cycle times as far as possible to maintain productivity.
The key is to position the valve switching station close to the tool, so the transition from hot to cooler temperatures involves only a very small exchange of water within the system. In conjunction with accurate temperature measurement and flow control valves it is possible to create a very reliable and efficient process by implementing a modular process control platform. This enables the seamless integration of sensors, flow measurement devices and flow control valves within an existing installation.
Improving profile accuracy
Extrusion technology is used to manufacture a wide range of products using plastics and metals and the overriding objective is to produce a uniform profile without distortion or variation in the dimensions. The decisive factor in achieving this goal is maintaining the correct process temperatures, regardless of external influences.
In this example the cooling process is as important as the heating procedures and as such industrial extrusion equipment will benefit from a modular process control platform. As a complete process temperature regulation system, this solution automates the controlled heating of the extruder sections and targeted cooling in the subsequent calibration stations.
With a flexible layout, each system allows the highest levels of quality to be achieved because the number of cooling points and nozzles can be varied and each one can be equipped with a dedicated, decentralized control unit. By working with expert designers, it is possible to create bespoke temperature control systems that provide the necessary levels of flexibility and reliability.
In each of these applications there is a demand for precision control of temperature and a need to compensate for variables such as ambient temperatures, requiring the control system to adjust accordingly.
Four-quadrant current control IC redefines motion engineering
A ground-breaking family of compact integrated circuits (ICs) for velocity and torque control, capable of four-quadrant current control is now available from Daventry’s INMOCO.
Developed by Performance Motion Devices in Massachusetts, and launched to the world in February 2018, the *Juno® IC family of ultra-efficient and powerful velocity and torque control ICs are ideal for next-generation laboratory automation, healthcare equipment, and similar applications requiring high speed or low speed motor control.
Performance Motion Devices Juno ICs are expected to profoundly improve the ability of design engineers to achieve greater motor efficiency, precise current control, and accurate velocity profiles.
INMOCO’s Gerard Bush says: “Juno ICs deliver smooth, quiet, and efficient motor operation over a wide range of operating conditions for brushed, brushless DC, and stepper motors. As such, they will prove ideal for servo motor applications in liquid pumping or high-speed motor control.”
Until the arrival of Juno ICs, design engineers had to develop multi-component solutions. These typically require significant amounts of board space and time for firmware development; only providing limited speed control accuracy, noise and significant heat. Designers also had to create their own interface and safety protocols.
In contrast, Juno’s one-chip approach ensures safe and optimal motor performance. It includes over-current, over- and under-voltage, over-temperature, current integration limits and communication monitoring functions.
“The Juno IC’s four-quadrant control allows precise ramp up and down,” said Chuck Lewin, President of Performance Motion Devices, “There is no other velocity IC on the market today that offers this functionality. The unique combination of velocity and torque control with intelligent safety and performance monitoring delivers ultra-efficient motor control that will help our customers improve development time and system safety.”
The Juno ICs are available in 64-pin TQFP or 56-pin VQFN packages, which measure 10 mm x 10 mm or 7.2 mm x 7.2 mm respectively. The Juno ICs are easy to deploy with pre-programmed motion commands and on-board intelligence.
The family of Juno ICs are ideal for equipment such as; centrifuges, laser scanners, dialysis machines, heart assist-pumps, drug infusion systems and ventilators. The IC’s compact size, four-quadrant functionality, ultra-efficient operation, and ability to bring motor intelligence to customer systems make them ideal for many precision motor applications in other fields too.
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