Linear Motion Control - 2020-11-23
When a UK specialist in automation and machine building was asked to manufacture face mask machinery in urgent response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it turned to the proactive team at NSK and the company’s long-life NH series linear guides.
Family-owned Sims Engineering (simsengineering.com) was established in 1982 to specialise in the design and manufacture of automated systems and special purpose machinery. Much of the work performed by this ISO9001-accredited business is destined for customers in the automotive, pharmaceutical and food sectors. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, the company responded immediately to a request for automated face mask manufacturing machines.
Sims Engineering is known for its ability to produce machines on short-lead times. The company had built face mask machines many years ago, so now it was a case of updating the design and manufacturing a reliable, innovative and efficient solution that would maximise productivity and quality.
The automated face mask manufacturing machines being manufactured by Sims Engineering are highly complex, with fully integrated cutting, folding and assembly to produce a fold-flat fabric mask. A high-precision punch and die set is used to profile-cut the mask’s fabric.
To help facilitate smooth, efficient and effective machine motion, the company turned to its long-term technology partner, NSK. For the past 20 years NSK has been supplying Sims Engineering with NH/NS series linear guides (and predecessor models) to suit the wide range of machines and systems built by the company.
For the face mask machines, the linear guides would have to exhibit fast speeds and high load capacity, while simultaneously offering minimal noise output and extended reliability. The company knew that NSK’s NH series would meet requirements.
NH series linear guides offer double the lifespan of conventional alternatives thanks to features like specially developed ball groove geometry. Further user benefits include high dynamic load rating, high productivity, long maintenance intervals, low noise output, ease of installation and standard accuracy that exceeds conventional alternatives.
Sims Engineering was pleased to discover that NSK’s workshop at its Newark, UK facility stayed open during lockdown. Just five days after the order was placed, NSK duly provided the first NH series linear guides.
As well as stocking standard units, NSK Newark has extensive capabilities to meet requests for specific lengths, coatings, seals and grease in short lead times. Although the facility holds stock of NH/NS linear guides in sizes 15 to 65 - supporting demand from across the UK and Europe - the in-house workshop is well equipped to meet special orders in lead times as short as five days.
Over the course of 2020, NSK has supplied Sims Engineering with many NH linear guides for its face mask manufacturing machines. Currently, three such machines are in production as demand for local face mask resources continues to grow.
All of the NH series linear guides for Sims Engineering are supplied with NSK’s K1 lubrication units, whereby lubricant is incorporated in a carrier medium and released little by little to ensure supply over a long time period. Meticulous sealing of the K1 prevents contaminants from reaching the running surface of the linear guide. In addition, far less lubricant is released into the surroundings than with conventional solutions.
As a further option, NSK has recently introduced the K1-L lubrication unit. The K1-L houses a new polyolefin-based carrier material with a much larger reserve of lubricant, leading to a service life which is typically double that of the K1 series.
Picture 1): The automated face mask manufacturing machines built by Sims Engineering feature NH series linear guides from NSK. Photo: Sims Engineering
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