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Air Floatation

Supplier: Air & Hydraulic Systems

For almost thirty years we have been utilising the benefits of AeroGo's Air Floatation products to provide both standard and custom load moving solutions for a variety of applications.

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Air Floatation

For almost thirty years we have been utilising the benefits of AeroGo's Air Floatation products to provide both standard and custom load moving solutions for a variety of applications.

From half a tonne to 5,000 tonnes - float it on a film of air!

History - AeroGo

In the 1950's, General Motors Corporation developed a Compliant Air Film Bearing for materials handling use in industrial applications.

Air floatation had been used in the die-making industry for moving heavy loads, but only where the two mating surfaces were machined smooth and were almost perfectly parallel. General Motors developed a design which permitted one operating surface to be made of flexible material which would conform to (or comply with) irregularities in a second, unmachined surface. This development widened the potential applications.

The results of General Motors' efforts have come to be known as "air bearings" although it is more correct to call them "compliant" air bearings (because the torus "complies" with variations in the operating surface).

General Motors licensed the technology to others in the mid-1960's. The Boeing Commercial Aircraft Company became an early user, employing "air bearings" in the movement of sub-assemblies on the B-707 production line.

Significant operating limitations with the GM bearing became apparent which lead to R & D efforts by Boeing to improve the design. These changes resulted in a design so unique that Boeing sought, and was awarded, a separate letters patent. The registered trade name "Aero-Caster" identifies the AeroGo air bearing.

In 1967 two of the Boeing engineers involved in the R & D work were permitted to leave Boeing and form AeroGo, Inc. For many years, Boeing was AeroGo's largest share holder, owning stock provided as compensation for a paid-up license agreement.

The ensuing years have seen the technology mature from a novelty to a practical method of rotating, aligning, transferring, locating or moving materials and products in tight quarters.

AeroGo has advanced the state of the art to utilise air, water and other liquids as the fluid film medium. In the movement of very heavy loads (usually from 1,000 tonnes and up), the cost of pumping water or liquids, is about 12% of the cost of compressing air. The use of liquids has lead to the broader, more accurate term for the technology: Compliant Fluid Film Technology.

Backgrounds in aerospace, aircraft, automotive, custom machinery and marine engineering, provide AeroGo's staff with a broad capability to relate to a variety of applications and requirements.

AeroGo Inc has been operating in Seattle for 40 years and is Quality Accredited to ISO 9001, as well as being an approved supplier to NASA, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and the United States military.

Air & Hydraulic Systems Pty Limited is a 100% Australian owned company and has been applying AeroGo as a solution to materials handling problems throughout Australia for almost 30 years. We are accredited to ISO 9001 and have been the Australian Distributor for AeroGo since 1979.

Aero-Caster Evolution

Compliant Fluid Film Technology

The technology was originally developed in the late 1950's by the General Motors Corporation, which sought to advance the well known theory of the "air bearing".

For years heavy loads had been moved by forcing air between two machined surfaces, primarily in the die-making industry.

This method of movement had two significant pre-requisites: both operating surfaces required a very smooth finish and both had to be very flat. Two major goals of General Motors' product development programme were:

Develop a general purpose product on which a load could be placed, moved and then unloaded.Develop a product that could be utilised on surfaces like factory floors rather than on a machined surface.

The results of General Motor's efforts have come to be known as "air bearings" although it is more correct to call them "compliant" air bearings (because the torus "complies" with variations in the operating surface).

AeroGo has advanced the state of the art to utilise air, water and other liquids as the fluid film medium.

In the movement of very heavy loads (usually from 1,000 tonnes and up), the cost of pumping water or liquids, is about 12% of the cost of compressing air. The use of liquids has lead to the broader, more accurate term for the technology: Compliant Fluid Film Technology.

The Aero-Caster Principle

An Aero-Caster (or air bearing) is something like a short stroke air cylinder. The compliant torus bag forms the cylinder wall.

When pressurised air is introduced, the flexible torus, once sealed against the operating surface, inflates and lifts the load.

This occurs when the air pressure multiplied by the effective lift area equals the downward force of the load: (force = pressure x area, or F = P x A).

The lower surface of the torus will then lift off the operating surface and a thin film of air will begin flowing around the entire lower surface of the torus. At this point, the load is suspended on a film of escaping air.

This air film virtually eliminates friction as long as the operating surface is smooth and non-porous. The Aero-Caster captures a "bubble" of compressed air within the compliant torus and allows just enough compressed air to escape to create the air film.

So long as the bubble is continually re-supplied with compressed air, at or above the operating pressure, and at sufficient volume to replace the air that escapes, the load will "float" above the operating surface, virtually without friction.

Omni-directional movement (with significantly lower forces, often manpower alone), will then be possible so long as the "bubble" is maintained.

Under ideal conditions, the friction factor may be reduced to as low as .001, this means, a 10 tonne load may require only 10 kg of force to move it..

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