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Bearings help reduce the production cost of dry vacuum pumps

by:JNSN     2021-10-26

Dry vacuum pumps play a vital role in various industrial production environments. In production processes such as semiconductors, solar panels, flat panel displays, and vacuum degassing applications in metal processing, a clean environment is required to prevent pollutants from adversely affecting production. The working room is usually full of gas, so a dry vacuum pump is needed for exhaust to form a vacuum working environment. In semiconductor manufacturing, etching tools must work in a vacuum chamber in order to etch micro grids of electronic circuits on silicon wafers. Because the production process is quite complicated, all contaminants in the production room must be removed before starting work. Therefore, in many semiconductor manufacturing plants, rows of dry vacuum pumps are often seen under the floor of the production room. For end users of dry vacuum pumps, the highest reliability of the pump must be ensured as much as possible. In any case, the pump should not fail due to unreliable bearings, because this will cause the production process to stop, which is very costly. With the accelerating pace of bearing technology innovation, bearings have played a more important role in reducing the lifetime cost of dry vacuum pumps (and other process pumps).

Typical vacuum pump assembly: If the bearing is properly designed, assembled and maintained in place, its service life will be longer

Normally, a dry vacuum pump requires four to eight bearings . The average service life of these bearings varies greatly, ranging from one to five years. But if the bearings are properly designed, assembled and maintained in place, their service life will be longer. Bearing solutions engineers use special bearing analysis and calculation software, combined with other design software, such as kinematics and finite element analysis, to model and simulate the bearings to be used in the vacuum pump. This allows the bearing solution to achieve the required performance, service life and lubrication characteristics, while also optimizing the cost of the solution. For example, in a recent project, a manufacturer of Roots claw vacuum pumps asked Baden to design a bearing solution that could meet multiple requirements. One of the requirements is to ensure that the pump can run at a higher speed (100 Hz instead of 60 Hz). In addition, bearings are required to work reliably under conditions of poor lubrication, heavy pollution, and high temperatures. The original vacuum pump bearings are designed with standard steel balls and steel cages, and the mean time between failures does not exceed three months. For end users, this resulted in costly production shutdowns. In order to ensure that the bearings can work more reliably at higher speeds, Baden has designed a set of high-precision bearing solutions specifically for customer pumps. This solution can improve operation accuracy, reduce noise and reduce heat generation. For example, ceramic materials can be used instead of steel balls to avoid welding and reduce the operating temperature of the bearing. These ceramic balls can better resist the damage caused by pollutants to the ball. In addition, the original cage was removed to obtain a safer 'failure protection' design. Heat treatment For high temperature conditions, Baden also conducts special heat treatment on the steel to prevent long-term growth and softening of the steel. Through the use of ceramic balls and the removal of the cage, the balance of the austenite content can be maintained, thereby achieving the best compromise between temperature performance and contamination. The effect of the new bearing solution is amazing: the mean time between failures has been increased by 20 times, from three months to five years. In addition, the actual operating temperature of the improved bearing solution is 30°C lower than the original design. 'Longer lasting' bearings also help reduce power consumption. Deciding whether to adopt a specific bearing plan should be made after analyzing the overall cost/benefit issues, rather than just based on the purchase price. Today's high-tech bearings provide many better features that can reduce life-time costs, which is beneficial to pump manufacturers and end users-despite the overall higher price of the bearings themselves.

Vacuum pump bearings on the production line of the Baden factory in Plymouth, UK

Design and select bearings for a specific application, and their life cycle cost (LCC) is equal to the sum of the following : Initial investment cost/purchase price+installation/commissioning fee+energy cost+operating cost+maintenance cost (conventional and planned)+downtime cost+environmental cost+decommissioning/disposal cost. For dry vacuum pumps, the initial purchase price of an advanced bearing solution may be three to five times more expensive than a standard bearing, but it saves users potential costs through energy saving, maintenance costs and downtime. Far exceeds its initial purchase price. The work of reducing the life-cycle cost starts at the design stage of the pump, which fully exploits the possibility of simplifying the mechanical design. This simplifies the assembly and subsequent maintenance of the pump, and directly and indirectly saves costs. The entire design process requires close cooperation between the bearing designer and the pump manufacturer. Although the speed requirements of dry vacuum pump bearings are lower than ordinary bearings, due to other factors such as temperature, pollution and reliability, special bearing designs must be adopted to meet application requirements. The operating speed of the dry vacuum pump is between 50 Hz and 150 Hz. Despite the low speed, the bearing must work reliably and maintain dimensional stability at high temperatures, so that it can continue to work effectively under poor lubrication conditions.

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