Machine Armor: A combination of steel
plate shielding, shade-type covers, and bellows keep contaminants from the
inner workings of a machining center.
Hot or abrasive chips and material contaminants can ruin the dimensional accuracy and bearings in a machining center's axes of motion. The "face shield" protective system from A & A Manufacturing Co. protects a CNC machining center against such damage with three types of movable covers that accommodate X, Y, and Z axis motion. These shields protect components such as ball screws, linear slides, and electrical components from friction and wear-producing contamination. They also prevent hot chips from reaching the machine structure where they could cause thermal expansion that might affect machine accuracy.
A conventional bellows or shade style cover can only move in a single plane, so a combination configuration had to be designed to allow for three-axis motion at high speeds. A & A engineers started out on the vertical axis with the company's Gordillo way cover, which is a sewn-folded accordion arrangement of stainless steel plates covering each convolution in a hypalon nylon cloth bellows. To allow for side-to-side motion of the vertical axis, PVA-coated-belting shade-roller covers are mounted on both sides of the vertical axis cover to offer protection while taking up travel. Finally a contoured-bellows ram cover made of urethane nylon at the center of the way cover handles protection during out of plane (in and out) motion of the machining spindle.
According to A & A, the face shield not only offers protection for general-purpose CNC machines, but can be of importance in niche applications such as machining optics, ceramics, graphite, magnesium, and other materials especially hazardous to bearings.
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