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Originally Posted On: https://www.intechpower.com/blog/blog/small-greaseless-cam-followers-rise-to-the-occasion-in-robotics-applications
Have you ever run into issues trying to select small cam followers for your application? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Certain design constraints may be limiting your choices. You might be asking questions like: “Can I access the cam followers easily for lubrication?” “Will my cam followers wear out aluminum rails?” “Can they stand up to washdown?”
Fortunately, we offer a solution in the form of our iCam® cam followers, which we can design with outer diameters (OD) as small as 6 millimeters. Self-lubricating, quiet and maintenance-free, these components eliminate the typical challenges associated with integrating small cam followers into machine designs.
Smaller and Lightweight Machine Designs Means Smaller Components
As robotics pushes into more applications — for example, surgical and laboratory equipment, warehousing systems and packaging machines — machine designs are becoming lighter, smaller and more compact. As a result of this trend, demand is also growing for small, precise and maintenance-free cam followers and guide rollers. Riding on aluminum or stainless steel rails, these motion elements support and guide the extendable robotic arms that grab packages off of warehouse shelves, enable rotation of WiFi antennas on airplanes or guide wash baskets into an ultrasonic cleaning bath, for example.
Due to their small size, however, metal cam followers and guide rollers can be difficult to access and lubricate. If you work in medical or cleanroom environments, you may want to avoid lubrication entirely. These components must also run quietly — a particularly important feature in medical equipment — absorb shock and vibration, and avoid wear, guaranteeing uninterrupted uptime.
Small iCams® Meet These Requirements
Answering the call for small, greaseless rolling elements are Intech iCam® cam followers and guide rollers, which offer the following benefits:
Small and compact. iCam® cam followers are available with ODs as small as 6, 10, 12, 16 or 19 millimeters. Our engineers have also designed and manufactured small units with ODs between ¼ and ¾ inches.
Dimensionally stable. Available with sealed stainless steel or ceramic bearings, our iCams® feature a precision-machined outer racer made from our Power-Core material. Compared to other polymers, Power-Core exhibits high wear resistance, absorbs shock and vibrations and doesn’t swell in the presence of moisture. As a result, it is dimensionally stable, offering precise, continuous motion — even in washdown environments.
Self-lubricating. iCams® feature sealed ball bearings that are pre-lubricated for life. And, the aluminum and stainless steel surfaces they run on don’t have to be lubricated either. Thanks to these features, you no longer have to worry about lubricating small, hard-to-reach cam followers. Because you no longer have to replace worn metal components in contact with metal cam followers, you also save on maintenance and downtime.
Wear- and contamination-free. Unlike metal cam followers, iCams’® Power-Core outer racer doesn’t wear the metal surface it’s running on, preventing the generation of metal particulates. By avoiding this frequent source of contamination, iCam® cam followers and guide rollers are an excellent replacement for metal cam followers in food, beverage and pharmaceutical applications.
Quiet. Thanks to Power-Core’s shock-absorbing properties and precision-machined surfaces, iCams® feature a smooth, quiet rolling movement. In fact, our iCams® reduce noise by roughly 10 decibels compared to metal cam followers.
With ODs as small as 6 mm, iCam® cam followers are self-lubricating, quiet and maintenance-free.
Ready To Go Small?
To learn more about small cam follower options, please contact our engineering team. Our experts will help you select an appropriately sized cam follower for your application — or design one that fits your specific needs. When axial forces are present, for example, we can design concave or convex outer racer shapes or accommodate your particular rail profile. Shafts are typically made from stainless steel or aluminum, and eccentric shafts are also available. Our engineers can also design special shaft features, for example, to facilitate installation.