It's the year 2000. By the time you read this, software engineering expertise has solved the Y2K crisis. And a bright new generation of talented and trained engineers is ready to advance technology. We congratulate Design News for its continuing commitment to promote the engineering profession. Schneeberger Inc. is proud to be one of the earliest sponsors of the annual Engineering Awards gala, which honors this nation's best engineers.
The linear motion industry is innovating at a rapid pace as the market demands higher accuracy with greater reliability and minimal maintenance. Recently, there has been a significant increase in media ads offering "maintenance free" products, specifically linear bearings and ballscrews. The ads include comforting words such as "Install it and forget it," or products "Lubricated for life." Nice concept, but does it represent reality? To Schneeberger, the term "maintenance free" should be considered only with a healthy dose of skepticism. There may be industrial products that are truly maintenance free (e.g. permanently lubricated rotary bearings) but to date these do not include linear guideways or ballscrews. The reason is simple--guideways and ballscrews lose lubricant during motion, according to their design and amount of use.
Several manufacturers of linear guideways or ballscrews have recently introduced end plates manufactured from a porous plastic impregnated with oil. As the guideway carriage or ball nut moves, the plastic material deposits a thin layer of lubricant on the rail or the screw thread. Does this clever idea work? Yes, in principle. Is it a maintenance free or "lubed for life" system? That depends on the application conditions and expectations. The typical recommended lubrication required for a size 45 guideway is 0.35 cc per 30 km. Assume a calculated life of 15,000 km (not uncommon for a machine tool). To achieve "lubed for life" condition, and even allowing for some re-absorption, the porous plastic must hold more than 100 cc of oil! Typically the total amount retained in one plate is about 20 cc, or 40 cc for both sides of the carriage. And therein lies the danger. Unless an engineer is disciplined to question the "maintenance free" label, the guideway or ballscrew with porous lube plate will be installed and forgotten until it fails from lack of lubricant.
What's our technical solution? Use a lubrication cartridge. The recently introduced Schneeberger SPL cartridge is a reservoir of oil that attaches to either (or both) side of our MONORAIL carriage. Felt pads located inside the cartridge contact the important rail surfaces. Oil is deposited in a consistent controlled manner regardless of rail orientation. Compared to the plastic plates, which must be removed and replaced once dry or contaminated, the SPL cartridge is easily refilled. Is it a "lubed for life" solution? No. But then, it's not advertised as such.
Schneeberger maintains its leadership in the linear motion industry through innovative technical solutions, such as the SPL cartridge, developed by our highly talented engineering team. Our continuing participation in the Design News awards program and the Engineering Education Foundation is a great way for Schneeberger to support engineering education and promote the engineering profession.
ENGINEERING AWARDS SPONSOR
Schneeberger contributes $20,000 to the Design News Engineering Awards Program