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Air Springs discusses rolling-sleeve Airstroke actuators employed in press-brake roles.

Proper tension control of webs used in production and materials-handling processes results in a higher quality product and greater production throughput through being able to run the process at higher speeds without sacrificing product quality.

The issue of correct tension braking, or tension control, is important to a host of production processes, including printing, coating, laminating, packaging, slitting, winding and textile, and paper manufacturing.

When printing, for example, improper tension control can result in smearing of ink and fuzzy images because of poor registration.

In other processes, some materials lose their elasticity if they are stretched as a result of poor tension control, while others suffer wrinkling and product rejects.

Tension-braking systems typically include sensors, controllers and hydraulic or pneumatic actuators that provide the fine, supple and often subtle force required to flexibly control roller sets frequently operating at high speed.

Ideal actuators for such roles must achieve reliable performance over millions of cycles in wet or grimy environments that can damage the internal seals of conventional cylinders and actuators.

One of the simplest actuation methods for this process and broader industrial actuation processes is to use an actuator that eliminates the need for internal seals, such as the air spring type, manufactured by Firestone and distributed in Australia by Air Springs Supply Pty .

These air springs, called Airstroke actuators, have been used in Australia for a variety of industrial actuation applications for more than 30 years, powered by normal factory compressed air.

Internationally they are employed in production processes such as web-guidance systems, where they control tracking on the belts of materials handling systems in industries such as food and beverage, packaging, plastics, textiles, and pulp and paper.

Unlike typical cylindrical metal pneumatic actuators, which require internal seals, an air spring contains its column of air in a fabric-reinforced rubber envelope, or bellows, which doesn’t require seals.

These bellows are inflated by compressed air to provide the flexible extension/contraction cycles needed to continuously and flexibly actuate industrial components such as tension brakes.

They are engineered into particular shapes to perform particular roles, with two of the most typical types being rolling-sleeve types or single-, double- or triple-convoluted types.

Rolling sleeve air springs provide good stroke extensions and shock-absorption capability.

They are identical in strength and construction to those used in heavy truck suspensions.

Convoluted types provide compact stable power, high repetition capabilities and the ability to be mounted simply without the need for elaborate mountings.

Both types offer side-load flexibility and simplified, compact attachment.

Because an air spring has a flexible, compliant bellows wall, instead of seals or guides, the bellows follows the path of least resistance.

This means users don’t have to worry about side loads caused by misalignment.

Because of its flexibility, the Airstroke can operate without a clevis, further simplifying operation and maintenance.

Airstroke actuators offer from 40-40,000kg of pushing or lifting power, with strokes up to 350mm, with deflated (or starting) heights down to just a few centimetres.

Air Springs

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