An igus DryLin rail guidance system has been used in a sawmill laser alignment system, overcoming the problems associated with conventional rolling element bearings in woodworking machinery.
Global Laser specialises in a wide range of OEM, high-performance, high-reliability laser diode module products for use within niche applications including machine vision, alignment, medical, measurement, scientific and military. A wide range of standard wavelengths is available, covering red, green, blue and infrared, with powers up to 200mW. Optical outputs include lines, crosses, circular and elliptical spots. The company has supplied laser beam alignment systems to the woodworking industry around the world for a number of years; the Guideline is a user-adjustable laser alignment system that is suitable for a variety of wood cutting applications. Here a highly visible alignment laser beam is used, usually red or green, to project a line onto the rough surface of the wood. Very useful for indoor sawmill setups, this laser beam pinpoints the location where the blade will hit the wood along its entire length, thereby reducing cut-offs and increasing yield.
Usually the laser is mounted statically above the machine able to project a line along the entire length of the wood. The length of guideline depends on the working distance overhead; for a working height of around 4m the length of the line is about 6-7m, which is often long enough when sawing wood.
However, when Global Laser received an enquiry for a laser alignment system in an application where the working height was restricted to just one metre above the blade, it presented a problem: the overall projected line from the conventional static mount system would not have been long enough. But, by installing a guide rail system overhead, the laser guideline can be effectively elongated along the required length of the wood.
In woodworking environments excessive amounts of wood dust and shavings, especially in areas where lubrication of moving parts is required, can clog equipment and cause damage. Jonathan White, Sales and Marketing Manager at Global Laser, says: "Our engineers did look into using ball bearings or lubricated steel-on-steel guides. However, these solutions were quickly ruled out as they would not have been suitable in the high-dust environment. Therefore, we approached igus to explore how we could implement an alternative solution."
At the initial project consultation with Global Laser, igus engineers proposed using DryLin linear bearings, guides, slides and slide tables. Unlike older bearing technologies, DryLin systems are engineered to run dry, which means they self-lubricate and are extremely dirt-repellent and rugged. In addition, without the need for lubricants or maintenance, expensive and cumbersome grease lines are eliminated from the design entirely.
The resulting laser alignment guide rail design integrates the DryLin W with clamp, DryLin SLW leadscrew system and DryLin ZLW belt drive system. The iglidur J material used for the linear guide ensures excellent coefficients of friction for smooth and precise movements over the design lifetime.
White comments: "The DryLin linear guide solution from igus comes pre-assembled and provides a great blend of value and precise performance, even in harsh environments. What is more, because igus assigns one part number for the complete assembly, we need only process one purchase order. This frees up engineering, purchasing and assembly times significantly and eliminates the hidden processing costs often associated when dealing with multiple vendors."
Following the successful completion of a number of laser alignment installations in the woodworking industry, Global Laser is currently demonstrating the concept to other industries. Since dirt, dust and similar abrasives cannot be drawn into the bearing surface, DryLin is suitable for use in aggressive environments, as well as for high-moisture, wash-down and even underwater applications. It is for these very reasons that Global Laser is confident the DryLin linear guidance system for its laser alignment systems can also be employed in other hostile environments such as those found in the food processing and paper converting industries.
Follow the link for more information about igus DryLin linear guides.