Polymer for compression vanes in pneumatic tools

Paul Boughton
When a major pneumatic tool manufacturer in Brazil wanted to develop a new line of high rotation tools, it turned to Ensinger, a global supplier of semi-finished products, finished parts and precision profiles, for help in manufacturing the compression vanes.

Requirements included resistance to flexural loads, and high wear and temperature resistance in dry-running operations. Ensinger chose VICTREX T-Series polymer for the vanes, which not only delivered enhanced mechanical and tribological properties, but helped the manufacturer satisfy environmental requirements.

The vanes are responsible for air compression in the tools and play a vital role in the system, keeping the rotor spinning and transmitting torque to the drive shaft.

According to Ricardo Ehlke, Victrex South America Market Development Manager: “The primary reason leading Ensinger to choose the VICTREX T-Series polymer was its successful performance in the high PV condition generated at 18,000 rpm. The polymer also offers the necessary chemical resistance if air lines become contaminated with oils, grease, and water particles. VICTREX T-Series polymer is a blend of VICTREX PEEK polymer  and Celazole polybenzimidazole (PBI) and is specially designed to perform in the most demanding applications requiring high thermal strength and wear resistance.”

The high rotation tools were developed in response to an industry need for higher productivity rates in manufacturing and maintenance operations. “In a search to find a solution that would increase the efficiency of its product range, the manufacturer decided that high rotation rotors were the answer,” said David Cislaghi, Product Development Manager of Ensinger Brasil. “To meet environmental requirements, they needed to eliminate any kind of lubricant inside the compression chamber. This was the deciding factor in specifying VICTREX T-Series polymer as it eliminated the problem of emissions residue during the exhaust phase. The result is a healthier shop floor environment with lower rates of contaminated particles.”

The compression vanes were previously manufactured with a cotton-phenolic based thermoset, which is not recyclable.

“Switching to VICTREX T-Series polymer offered advantages both from an environmental and processing point of view, due to its high purity and recyclable possibility,” said Cislaghi. “From a production point of view, using VICTREX T-Series polymer to injection mold the vanes is a much shorter process. There is no secondary operation required to reach the tight tolerances. When the thermoset material was used, production required two different steps; first, a plate was produced, and second, the vane was machined out of the plate to the part print dimension. The result was low productivity and higher processing costs.”

As soon as the first vane profile was approved for the new product line, Ensinger worked with the tool manufacturer on ways to extend the concept and polymer to different vanes, standardizing profiles in order to cover their entire product range.

The high rotation tools, including polishing machines, drillers, grinders and screwdrivers, are used in a wide range of industries and applications including engine production lines, aircraft fuselages, and general assembly operations in home appliances and electronic components.

For more information, visit www.victrex.com

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