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Selecting shafts for linear bearings: two things you need to know
Both recirculating and plain linear bearings as well as track-roller wheel-based linear bearings can use a wide variety of shaft materials, depending on the application or environmental requirements. Shafts for recirculating linear bearings are typically made of bearing-grade carbon steel or stainless steel. Likewise, plain linear bearing systems can use carbon steel, stainless steel, or aluminum shafts. And for very harsh environments or special conditions, shafts can be plated or coated to withstand caustic or abrasive contaminants.

When choosing which type of shaft to use in a linear bearing application, the two most important factors that contribute to bearing wear and life are the shaft’s surface finish and hardness.

Surface finish

Surface finish generally refers to the “roughness” of a surface, which is a measure of how much the surface topography varies from an ideal plane. Recirculating ball bearings operate best when paired with ground or polished shafts with a low roughness value. This is because a better surface finish actually increases the contact area between the shaft and the recirculating balls. A “rough” shaft surface, with a significant number of peaks and valleys, provides less contact area for the balls to ride on, whereas a smoother shaft surface provides more contact area for the load-carrying balls. Typical surface finish recommendations for shafts used with recirculating ball bearings are 6 to 10 microinch Ra.

For plain linear bearings, however, a smoother shaft surface can actually lead to decreased life, due to the self-lubricating nature of most plain bearings. Plain bearings rely on features of shaft roughness — specifically, the “peaks” on the surface of the shaft — to transfer small amounts of the bearing material to the shaft. These dislodged bits of material fill in the valleys on the shaft surface and provide lubrication as the bearing travels back and forth. Without this lubrication, friction between the shaft and bearing will be higher, and the bearing’s PV rating will be reduced.

This is also true for plain bearings made of bronze, which must be lubricated externally. A slight roughness of the shaft surface helps the shaft retain lubricant and prevent metal-to-metal contact. But as with recirculating bearing shafts, a surface that is too rough can also cause extensive wear on the bearing and lead to premature failure. The suggested range of surface roughness values depends on the bearing material, but as an example, composite bearing manufacturers generally recommend a shaft surface roughness of 8 to 16 microinch Ra.

Shaft hardness

Equally important to shaft surface finish is the shaft hardness. Sufficient shaft hardness is critical for recirculating linear bearings because point loading created by the balls can cause permanent deformation of the shaft. Because heavier loads place more stress on the surface of the shaft, they require higher hardness values than lighter loads. In fact, a shaft hardness factor (often denoted fH) is included in load and life calculations for recirculating ball bearings.

The typical hardness recommendation for round shafts used with recirculating ball bearings is HRC 60, which corresponds to a shaft hardness factor, fH, of 1.0 (i.e. no increase in required load capacity or reduction in life). Hardness ratings below HRC 60 can significantly reduce the life of the bearing assembly. Note that stainless steel generally has a hardness value in the range of HRC 54, meaning assemblies that use stainless steel shafts will have a lower life expectancy, even if all other operating parameters are the same.

Although shaft hardness is not as critical for plain linear bearings as it is for recirculating types, it does play a role in plain bearing wear. Because plain bearings don’t typically include seals or wipers, contaminants can become trapped between the bearing and shaft and, if the bearing material is soft, the contaminants can become embedded in the bearing. Likewise, if the shaft hardness is not sufficient, contaminants can also become embedded in the shaft. For example, Dupont demonstrates that bearings made of its Delrin® acetal resin experience less wear and better life when used with harder shafts. And for plain bearings made of bronze, the shaft material must be harder than the bearing material.

Can We Chrome Plate Stainless Steel?
The short answer is yes. Most common grades of Stainless Steel can be reliably Chrome Plated, this may however not be the most appropriate process depending on your application.

For A Bright, Shiny Finish

For decorative applications, it may be simpler to instead Electro-polish the item instead. During the elctro-polishing process the component is fitted with two electrodes which are connected to a power supply, this is then immersed into an electrolytic solution. This process removes surface impurities and promotes oxidation of the metal surface. This is a fantastic way to achieve a bright and shiny finish for your stainless steel components.

For Protection

Many commercial products such as car bumpers are chrome plated to increase their abrasion and scratch resistance. The process itself is often called nickel-chrome. This is because first a layer of nickel is added and then on top a thinner layer of chrome. Much of a products shine actually comes from the nickel ‘undercoat’. Nickel Plating may be one alternative if you are looking to give your component added protection. Nickel would certainly act as a protective barrier and is somewhat corrosive resistance, and quite often used to give products a shiny finish, but over time it will tarnish on its own and this is why Chrome is often used in conjunction to provide a hard and durable layer.

What about Hard Chrome?

‘Hard Chrome’ differs from Bright Chrome in that it is an industrial process which is able to provide a thick, protective barrier for your parts. This will be able to provide a much higher level of wear and corrosive protection for your parts. Hard Chrome is certainly an option for Stainless Steel parts, but may not be suitable should your component/product need to meet REACH standards.

So What Process?

It very much depends on your application. Stainless Steel can be Chrome Plated, but if you are looking purely at making it brighter and more decorative then it may be better to simply polish it. Get in touch with Silchrome Plating together and we can help guide you as to the best plating or coating process. Silchrome are ISO 9001 and 14001 certified and based in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

ID Honing
The honing process is used to produce smooth surface finishes inside bores, or to hold precise tolerances on bore diameters. Honing produces the required surface finish or finished diameter by utilizing an abrasive stone, which turns while being moved in and out of the workpiece. Cutting fluids are used to provide smooth cutting action and to remove the cut material from the bore.

MicroGroup has the capability of honing inside diameters of tubing and machined bore sizes from Ø.064″ to Ø1.00″ using its Sunnen honing machine.

The process involves introducing a mandrel (tool) into an ID or bore to remove debris and/or to change an ID finish. A lubricant may be used. The material is abrasively removed by the shearing action of the grains contained in the honing tool. This allows inaccuracies of previous operations to be corrected. Roundness is generated by the tool rotation seeking the centerline of the I.D. or machined bore. Finishes of 8µin and better can be achieved depending on the material and size. The reciprocating motion of the tool generates straightness. Multiple grits and stages must be used in sizing if the rough diameter is not within certain limits of the finished requirements.

MicroGroup also uses a process called “flexible-honing” or “ball-honing”. This process uses a resilient and flexible honing tool with a soft abrasive cutting action. Flexible-Hone tools are made with a heavy-duty twisted wire shaft that holds flexible nylon strands coated with abrasive globules or balls attached to the end of the nylon strands. These globules or balls conform to the shape of the surface to be honed to create a smooth, consistent finish in a cylinder bore or tube I.D. Flexible-Honing is also an excellent choice for cleaning the inside diameters of tubing.

Four Types of Hydraulic Cylinders are Used in Many Applications
It’s important to know which hydraulic cylinder is going to work best for your application. Each type of cylinder uses a different design and mechanisms to function. It’s also important to use cylinders that are designed by engineers and fluid power specialists. In this post, we will look at some of the different types of cylinders Best Metal Products has to offer.

Single acting cylinders

Single acting hydraulic cylinders are ideal for use in applications that have weight, gravity, or another assisting force which will move the cylinder in a single direction. Single acting hydraulic cylinders use hydraulic pressure to extend or retract the rod in one direction. Single acting cylinders often cost less than double acting cylinders and work well in a vast range of mobile and industrial applications.

Double acting cylinders

Double acting hydraulic cylinders are more common than single acting cylinders because they work in more applications at almost any angle. In applications where there is assistance through gravity or weight, hydraulic pressure is still often used to cushion the stoppage, control acceleration, and meter the rate of travel.

Piggyback cylinders

Piggyback hydraulic cylinders use two cylinders in opposite directions that are yoked or welded together. This means that there is twice the stroke while taking up half the space. Piggyback cylinders are idea in applications that have limited space but require a long stroke.

Telescopic cylinders

Telescopic hydraulic cylinders are made available in single acting and double acting types. Like piggyback cylinders they allow for a long stroke while taking up much less space when collapsed.

At Best Metal Products, we believe that every single hydraulic cylinder that we produce meets stringent quality standards, performs or exceeds its rating standard, and functions with a long service life with the utmost reliability, predictability, and safety. If you are an OEM and have been looking for an experienced, trusted hydraulic cylinder manufacturer, do not hesitate to contact us today!

What does it mean to "throw a rod"?
A friend of mine told me that he had ruined his car engine while driving very fast on a country road. He claims he "blew a rod" and the motor was worthless after that. In more technical terms, could you please tell me what happens when one "blows a rod?"
RAY: To set the record straight, in the field of auto mechanics, one doesn't "blow a rod," one "throws a rod." Now that that's clear, here's what happens.
TOM: When gasoline explodes in a cylinder, the violent force of that explosion pushes the piston down. The motion of that piston is what makes the crankshaft turn--and ultimately what makes the car move. The metal part that connects the piston to the crankshaft is called a "connecting rod."
RAY: When you "throw a rod," it means that one of these rods has literally broken off. When that happens, one of two things occurs. If the rod breaks while the piston is on its way up, the piston keeps going up until it jams itself permanently into the cylinder head. If the rod breaks while the piston is coming down, the broken rod can pierce a hole right through the engine block (like a compound bone fracture breaking through the skin). Either way, the engine is instantly ruined, and you'll have to "blow a wad" to get the car back on the road.
RAY: There are two theories about why connecting rods break. The first is divine revenge. This theory states that people who rev the heck out of their cars get what they deserve. We call that the "divining rod theory." Mechanical Atheists, on the other hand, argue that thrown rods have more to do with the age of the car and the accompanying low oil pressure. Since there is a divine element involved, we play it safe by subscribing to both theories.
TOM: So if your friend wants his next car to last, he should cover all of the bases. First, he should live a good clean life. That'll cover the "divining rod theory" and all of its corollaries. Second, he should change the oil frequently, and make sure the level is always adequate. That should take care of the Atheists. And finally, he should slow down on country roads so he can enjoy the scenery. That'll satisfy the Audubon Society and the local constabulary.

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