Way Covers: An Overview of Their Types and Benefits

Many labor-intensive industries such as pulp and paper, salt and mineral mining, pharmaceutical and medical, use various types of machines for meeting their daily production requirements. These machines work in an environment where their parts are exposed to contaminants and require protection from their own processes. Being positioned in close proximity, it becomes difficult to use static enclosures to protect these parts. Part replacements due to damages or exposure to contaminants are expensive and time-consuming. This is where protective way covers can help.

Way Cover Overview

As the name suggests, the way covers are machine accessories designed to protect machine parts from cutting, contaminants, or their own processes. These way covers for machine tools are distinguished into two types— telescoping style covers and bellows type covers based on their designs. This post provides insights on different types of way covers for machine tools and their benefits.

A Discussion on Bellows Type Way Covers

The bellows type way covers are distinguished on the basis of their construction into the following types:

  1. Sewn Bellows Covers: Featuring series of stamped annual rings that are sewn together using Kevlar or nylon thread, these bellows covers can be availed in a variety of shapes, including oval, round, strip-type, rectangular, three-sided and so on. These bellows covers can be created using a wide range of materials depending on application requirements. Typical applications of these bellow covers include way and linear rails, cylinder rod boots, lift table skirting, pneumatic and hydraulic cylinder covers, and so on.
  2. Molded Bellows Covers: As the name suggests, these bellows are made using molds. Constructed using various rubber and plastic elastomers, these bellows covers are ideal for protecting lead screws, moving cylinders, precision shafts, as well as irregular shaped parts. These bellows can be made in virtually any shape, material, as well as mounting configuration. Molded bellows are known to serve a variety of functions including dispensing liquids, suctioning, damping vibrations, cushioning, and so on.
  3. RF-Welded Bellows Covers: These bellows are created by fusing thin layers of thermoplastics at high radio frequencies. RF-welded bellows covers are sometimes referred to as RF-sealed, dielectric-welded or high frequency-welded bellows. These bellows are suited for a broad temperature range from -40 to +225 degree F.

An Introduction to Telescopic Way Covers for Machine Tools

Telescopic way covers are suited for applications that demand complete protection of its parts. These way covers protect against lubricants, coolants, heavy chip loads, cutting, oil, dropped tools, and so on.

Telescopic way covers are designed to move across any axis, and are available in the following shapes:

  • Flat: The orientation of flat way covers can be vertical, horizontal, dual axis, or cross-rail.
  • Slated or Peaked: At times, telescopic way covers are slanted or peaked to deflect coolants.
  • Roof Shaped: These way covers are designed to deflect coolant and swarf on either side depending on the inclination angle.
  • Vertical Sliding Plates: These way covers feature a sliding design where individual plates slide over guide rails. As these way covers require no particular slideways, they are mainly used for protecting column recesses. If there are coolants or swarf, these way covers can be mounted vertically. These sliding plates are available in various materials to meet diverse application requirements.

The choice of these way covers will entirely depend on your application requirements. There are several things to be considered when approaching a manufacturer of way covers. These include temperature conditions, exposure to environmental threats, vacuum pressure conditions, the speed of the part on which the cover is used, and so on.

After knowing the importance of way covers for machine tools, it is ideal that you source them from reliable manufacturers or suppliers. Nabell USA Corp is a well-known manufacturer of bellows covers and telescopic way covers in the US. The company also provides way covers repairing services through their MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operating) department

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