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Bearing and leadscrew combo slashes install times

15 October, 2013

Thomson has announced a linear motion technology that combines the functions of a linear bearing and a leadscrew in a single, compact package. The integrated and pre-aligned leadscrew and linear bearing – called the Glide Screw – is designed to actuate a moment load or side load smoothly and quietly, without additional support.

Thomson claims that the new system can cut component counts and installation times dramatically compared to previous technologies. For example, a typical Glide Screw installation needs 15 components compared to 34 for a profile rail and 37 for a round rail.

And a video produced by Thomson (above) shows that the time taken to install the new system can be just over ten minutes, compared to more than 40 minutes for a round-rail system and almost 80 minutes for a profile rail. Much of reduction comes from substantial savings in surface preparation time, which takes just four minutes for Glide Screw, compared to 25 minutes for the round rail and 55 minutes for the profile rail.

The patent-pending design effectively turns the external diameter of a screw into a bearing surface. It is claimed to speed installation and to simplify bills of materials, while a lubrication block built into the nut almost eliminates the need for maintenance.

Because the Glide Screw serves both as the drive system and as a linear guide, these functions are aligned and cannot bind. This simplifies installation and the mating components do not need high-tolerance geometric features. The device can handle axial, radial and moment loads without any extra guidance. The result is an efficient, space-saving design that is quick and easy to install and needs much less maintenance than traditional designs.

Thomson's Glide Screw can slash installation times

“Every engineer’s objective is to eliminate parts, streamline designs, simplify installation and minimise maintenance requirements, with the ultimate goal of producing a superior performing machine with a distinct competitive advantage,” says Ben Gambrel, director of marketing in Thomson’s linear components group. “By combining the best attributes of linear bearing and leadscrew technologies into the Glide Screw product, we’ve created a completely new technology category that helps machine designers and builders do exactly that. Glide Screws eliminate the need for reference surfaces, the pain of “floating” a system into alignment, and even lubrication. This is truly a plug-and-play, install-it-and-forget it solution.”

The Glide Screws are available in numerous standard inch and metric sizes and configurations. Custom diameters, configurations and thread leads are available on short lead times.

The new product’s design and performance attributes, combined with its robust bearing-grade plastic and stainless-steel construction, make it suitable for use in applications where smooth, reliable linear motion is required – such as fluid pumps, pick-and-place systems, and 3D printing or engraving. Optional configurations are available to promote long operating lives and operation in temperatures up to 175°C, clean-room operation up to class 1000, and for use in food processing and packaging equipment.

Thomson has set up a dedicated Web site for Glide Screw where visitors will find video, 3D animation and technical documentation, and can access Thomson application engineers who can help them to configure installations.

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