Firestone Airstroke actuators available from Air Springs Supply offer simple yet efficient actuation solutions in process automation applications.
Conventional conveyor actuators are subject to additional stress from faster speeds and tricky loads, with new conveyor designs permitting higher processing speeds. The requirement for higher stroke speeds, often coupled with greater tolerance to side and uneven loads for reliability is forcing process and plant engineers to look outside their traditional terms of reference to fresh approaches.
According to James Maslin, Industrial Manager for pneumatic actuation and isolation specialists Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd, fewer moving parts and reduced complexity usually equate to less wear and more reliability.
Air Springs’ actuation solutions involve some of the simplest pneumatic actuators available called the Firestone Airstroke actuators, a range of tough, flexible wall bellows engineered into different shapes to perform different tasks. Containing no internal moving parts, these actuators will not break, bend, cause internal scoring or require lubrication.
Mr Maslin points out side load flexibility as a key advantage for conveyor applications. The flexible, compliant bellows wall of the air spring enables the bellows to follow the path of least resistance, eliminating the risk of side loads caused by misalignment. The lack of seals also means lack of friction.
Key features of Airstroke actuators:
- Unique capability of stroking through an arc without a clevis
- Angular motion of up to 27 degrees possible
- Can be used to replace more expensive hydraulic systems
- Available from 31mm to 940mm diameter
- Compact starting heights of 30.48mm and 139.7mm respectively
- Smaller sizes provide a wide range of forces required for conveyor and processing operations
- Large sizes allow force up to 40,000kg each using only 7 bar (100psi) air pressure
- Less than half the capital cost of a hydraulic or pneumatic cylinder with equivalent capabilities
Flexible wall air springs are designed to compress to their minimum height, extending when pressure is applied. The minimum height is considerably less than the available stroke allowing air springs to be put in a very compact space and extended to more than twice their starting height.
Ease of attachment
Attachment is simplified since the bellows bend and bead plates don't have to remain parallel. As long as the bellows' side walls aren't over-extended or over-compressed, users can stroke through an angle without clevises.
Air springs outlast cylinders in most high-speed applications since they don't require lubrication and have a lower system cost.
Curtailed air and production losses
Since air springs do not contain moving parts to break, wear or leak compressed air, costly disruptions of production are eliminated.
Suitability for aggressive environments
Air springs can often survive abrasive and corrosive environments unlike conventional cylinders since there are no seals sliding against exposed surfaces. Sliding seals in traditional cylinders can stick, causing a jerky motion that can damage equipment.