Why choose custom urethane parts for manufacturing equipment

How are urethane parts used in manufacturing systems?

With the rapid rise of technological advancements and the introduction of new innovations in robotics, automation is taking over the production of today’s products. Assembly systems, material handling, automated warehousing, and product movement each have been streamlined for fast and efficient production and delivery. Modern robotics have made it possible to smoothly integrate each phase of the production process and reduce the necessary time to produce today’s products.

In every step and aspect of the robotics and assembly processes are rollers, shock absorbing bumpers, wheels, and gripping elements. The success and efficiency of automated processes depend on the right material being used for these small but necessary elements. The essence of these strong and sturdy components is highly dependent on the material from which they are made, which allows them to work at a high rate of speed, withstand the stress of modern technologies, and be long lasting, dependable, and reliable.

What are some of the considerations choosing urethane parts?

Custom-designed, carefully configured, and exceptionally durable urethane is the first choice in every case for the foundational elements that keep American automation running smoothly. Although other materials can be used, none of them have the strength and resilience of urethane, which can be easily and inexpensively formed.

When deciding to replace and purchase new components, the first concern is cost, which has to be managed to ensure profitability. As every engineer and account manager knows, initial expenses have to be amortized over the life of a part. The consideration of urethane rollers, bumpers, and grippers may seem to be a daunting cost during the initial purchasing process. In actuality, urethane is far less expensive when viewed from a time perspective.

What are alternatives to urethane for parts?

One of the materials that has been initially chosen for bumpers and rollers is rubber, which is available in several forms. It has been used for years as a protective material, tires, and for many other applications due to it being plentiful, easily accessible, and inexpensive. It has normally been chosen due to its low cost and its strength which is similar to that of urethane. Here is where the time factor comes in. While rubber does have some outstanding properties, it is not long-lasting and has to be replaced frequently.

For example, the useful life of rubber components is approximately 1,000 hours. When used in the proper environment, rubber components can be supportive, provide protection, and be resilient. Unfortunately, near the end of its 1,000 hours, the body and surface of rubber break down due to heat expansion, wear aging, shredded surfaces, and the surface of rubber components being scratched or gouged. Unless they are regularly checked for wear, the failure of rubber components can cause assembly shutdowns and delays in production, which is especially true in automated processes such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs), conveyors, and robotic arm assemblies.

Using the same scenario, urethane components last for approximately 4,000 hours, four times that of rubber, and retain their strength, durability, resilience, and form until the end of their usefulness. In many cases, urethane elements outlast the very equipment that they are designed to support. Using the amortization of rubber compared to urethane, rubber components cost four times as much as urethane ones.

What are some of the advantages of urethane parts?

One of the factors that adds to the longevity of urethane is its ability to endure harsh environments that may contain toxic chemicals and extreme temperatures. While other materials, such as rubber, various plastics, and metals, are limited to where they can be used, urethane is unaffected by most chemicals, can withstand radical changes in temperatures, and is commonly used in the most demanding and caustic conditions. It is for these reasons that urethane is used in production systems that involve severe abrasions and the use of oil products.

More and more industrial operations are transferring their production processes to automation for the improvement of quality and efficiency. These choices make it possible to lower labor costs while enhancing production. In such cases, the number of employees available to monitor each of the automated processes is limited, which demands that each component and element of production be at peak performance at all times.

The use of urethane components removes a layer of concern regarding equipment shutdowns and production stoppage. Its longevity, durability, and resilience in the face of the most hazardous conditions has made urethane the key element in the joints, bumpers, rollers, and wheels of automated equipment. The bottling industry, food production, and lumber industry rely on urethane elements to withstand impact, abrasions, and shock without failing.

Does urethane for parts work well with other materials?

Part of the universal use of urethane is due to its ability to enhance plastics, metals, and any other material by adhesively bonding to the assorted materials, regardless if they are rigid or flexible. This aspect of urethane is one of the reasons that it is so widely used in the designing and engineering of automated equipment. When combined with plastics or metals, urethane enhances the properties of the bonded material and increases the material’s longevity, resilience, and durability.

Modern automation is dependent on electrical power to drive conveyors, robotics, AGVs, and material handling equipment. Any conductive material in an automated environment can interfere with signals and guidance systems, which can be damaging to production and material movement. The electrical properties of urethane make it the safest material for use with electrically powered equipment since it can serve as insulation and be included in other applications due to its dielectric strength, dielectric constant, and resistivity. Depending how it is formulated, urethane can have a resistivity can range from 1010 to 1011 ohm/cm.

Part of automation processes is the lifting and handling of various types of loads that move through the production process. Most metals and plastics are unable to endure the constant loading and unloading that automated applications require. One of the key factors regarding load bearing for urethane is its hardness, which is between 55A and 90D on the Rockwell hardness scale, which changes depending on the application. Included with load bearing applications, such as pads, bumpers, rollers, and wheels, is deflection that is caused by compressive force and is a key property for resilient materials. The deflective property of urethane is between 5% and 15%, capabilities that neither metals or plastics have.

Why should urethane be chosen for manufacturing equipment parts?

Part of the planning, designing, and engineering of the many new and innovative advanced pieces of automated equipment begins with the selection of materials that are resilient enough to last the life of the equipment. With the rapid advancement of technology and the demand for strong, durable production assemblies, the first and essential material that designers and engineers choose is urethane for its dependability, strength, and excellent performance in the face of all conditions and environments.

Why American Urethane?

American Urethane is a premiere supplier of custom urethane parts for a wide range of industries. Our engineers understand your needs and concerns based on their years of experience and depth of knowledge. Contact us today to see how we can help you with rapid response and high quality.