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Environmental Considerations for Positioning Devices

December 17, 2018

The life of a positioning device is highly dependent upon its operating environment. Premature failure can occur if the system is not designed to operate within the environmental conditions where it is installed. Some environments which warrant special considerations are as follows:

  1. High moisture, humidity, condensation, outdoors fluid splashing, or corrosive.
  2. Grinding, welding, etc. – where debris can contaminate screw nut and bearings.
  3. High or low ambient operating temperatures.
  4. Other special environments such as clean rooms, vacuums, underwater, radioactive, or “gritty” particles in the atmosphere (glass, ceramic, etc.)

The positioning device design may need to change depending upon the type of environmental condition for which it is being utilized. Below is a list of recommended positioning device options to withstand various environments.

Environment: Corrosive

Suggestion: Chrome plated or stainless-steel rails, screw, and bearings. All mounting hardware should also be stainless material.

Environment: Dusty

Suggestion: Waycovers should be used to prevent buildup of debris on rails and screw. This would apply to grinding, drilling, welding, and cutting type applications.

Environment: Gritty Particles

Suggestion: Waycovers with positive air pressure under waycovers, or external particle dust collection system (vacuum)

Environment: Welding

Suggestion: May require high temperature waycovers to protect from hot weld splatter.

Environment: High or low temperature

Suggestion: Special lubricants and motion device material.

Environment: Vacuum

Suggestion: Special lubricants and motion device material.

Environment: Clean Room

Suggestion: Chrome plated rails, screw, and bearings. Low outgassing grease and plastics.

In applications where there is an extreme amount of particulate generation, positive air pressure should be considered for the positioning device in conjunction with the waycovers. As waycovers expand and contract, it is very possible to create an inward airflow which can be strong enough to “suck” particulates into the positioning device cavity. The speed at which the device moves directly affects the magnitude of the inward airflow intensity.

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