System modules are configurable for meeting most pneumatic logic arrays. The X-Valve also mounts directly to printed circuit boards.
Hollis, NH —Designing a product is one thing. Getting a prototype made is another. When the prototype or other custom component is a specially designed pneumatic valve and manifold system, machining and assembly operations often steal valuable time in the race to market, adding weeks to the schedule. Pneutronics Inc. (Hollis, NH) found a way to give that time back to manufacturers. By developing a modular valve-to-manifold interface that quickly snaps, rather than screws, together, they eliminate assembly and machining steps, which reduces lead times. Pneutronics approach to custom orders—the X-System™—removes steps in the engineering process. Instead of obtaining a schematic from the customer, making an engineering drawing, and sending the part out to be machined as is typically the case with custom orders, the X-System enables mixing and matching of components for producing special orders.
The patent pending valve-to-manifold interface has tightly controlled press-fit regions for assembly. "It looks a little like a Lego™building block," says Andy Weiss, the engineer at Pneutronics largely responsible for development the X-system.
Use of thermoplastic elastomer allowed Pneutronics to make the manifold screw-less and reduce total part count. "The manifold system minimizes the components used for assembly," says Weiss. The mechanical interface between the valve and the manifold requires no seals. In all, there are only six parts per valve station module. Reducing the number of parts also reduces the number of potential leak points.
The system's tubing connectors are barbs for each port connection. The manifold is unique because its geometry includes a tubing interface that permits mounting of valves. The module sealing mechanism retains the valve onto the manifold with radial force.
The thermoplastic elastomer creates a leak-tight seal via the radial interface in matching manifold holes. These precision connections permit the axial flow through the X-valve to be redirected perpendicular to the valve so that all ports face the same direction, greatly facilitating manifold mounting and tubing installation.
And just like a Lego block, the plastic X-System manifold gives a little. Unlike metal manifolds, it is forgiving of minor variances. "The module flexes to meet the valve ports by as much as 0.003 inches," says Weiss.
The X-system is configurable to many types of applications where smaller footprints and lighter weights are desirable. It measures 11/4×0.315×0.93 inches and weighs only 0.02 lb per valve station.
Pneutronics estimates that reductions in lead times are as much as 75%.
Contact: Andy Weiss, Parker Hannifin, Pneutronics Div., 26 Clinton Dr., Unit 103, Hollis, NH 03049; Tel: (603) 595-1500; Fax: (603) 595-8080; www.pneutronics.com.
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