A shock absorber or damper is a mechanical or hydraulic device designed to absorb and dampen shock impulses. In some applications, it can ensure that a vehicle’s wheels stay on the road, making them a key safety element. They are also found in countless industrial systems. SKF Economos Deutschland GmbH offered a customized material solution to long-time partner ACE as a way to optimize design of its maintenance-free miniature shock absorbers and to ensure smoother installations.
As the leading market supplier in industrial damping technology, ACE services a variety of industries such as mechanical and plant engineering, automotive, food and beverage, and medical equipment. Their product range includes damping solutions in automation technology, speed control, and vibration isolation.
- Pioneer of the first adjustable industrial shock absorber (1963)
- Portfolio includes automation control, motion control, vibration control, and safety products.
- Headquarters in Farmington Hills, Michigan, USA. Langer, Germany
- Five branches, four production facilities, 45 representative offices worldwide
Leave it to the experts
SKF knows a thing or two about that – having monitored vibration behavior in industrial equipment for decades. SKF’s vibration products and solutions range from vibration sensors and lubrication management systems to various testing and measuring equipment – take SKF Vibracon for example, which absorbs vibrations like a vibration damper. It is used in a wide variety of applications and industries.
Various industrial applications such as linear slides, pneumatic cylinders, and machine sand plants rely on shock absorbers and vibration dampers. To ensure a long service life, these applications need to be resistant to high activation frequencies in automatic machines, as well as durable against aggressive chemicals and dirt.
Initially, ACE has been using its maintenance-free miniature shock absorbers in the Protection range, PMCM. Solutions in this range all feature a special internal rolling membrane that dynamically seals the piston against the oil-filled cylinder.
That is why ACE turned to SKF again when it was experiencing issues with the PTFE materials previously used. The previously used PTFE was very stiff and sensitive to shock, which ultimately did not deliver on the promised service life.
SKF had the perfect solution: H-ECOPUR, a hydrolysis resistant thermoplastic polyurethane, which is extremely resilient to coolants/lubricants, cleaning media, and water vapor. The customer was so pleased that the chosen material allows the shock bellows to return back to normal position after absorbing shock.
ECOPURs are premium sealing grade thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers, offering low compression set, excellent pressure, and abrasion resistance as well as high tensile properties and tear strength. In sealing applications, these grades are mostly used for U-cups, lip seals, wipers, and packings, but are also used for dampers and other customized parts.
Improved design and other perks
Once the material challenge had been resolved and the optimum wall thickness of the bellows had been determined, the joint development team of ACE and SKF turned its attention to optimizing the design.
Firstly, the way in which the bellows were fastened to the cylinder was improved, In the earlier designs, bellows were still fastened to the cylinder with an internal thread, and the connection was additionally reinforced by bonding. This is now done with a snap-on bead in the bellows and a corresponding groove in the outer body of the cylinder. This eliminates an early potential failure mode and allows for a smoother installation of the complete shock absorber.
This solution eliminates the need for compression springs and bonding, which also significantly increased the reliability of the damper. To this end, the excellent properties of the material also improved the service life.
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