The ATBT air bearing from pneumatic and electrical automation technology supplier Festo is designed to provide a solution that ensures safe and gentle transport of fragile components such as flat panel displays and photovoltaic substrates on a cushion of air.
Conceived for handling large and heavy substrates with minimum air consumption and maximum precision, the ATBT air bearings, which were launched recently, are used successfully worldwide. It makes contactless handling of substrates possible, regardless of their size and weight.
ATBT is manufactured from a porous, air-permeable material with a microporous texture to ensure an even air flow with low compressed air consumption. This air cushion enables the glass panels and delicate films used in the solar and electronics industries to glide evenly over the fine surface of the bearing, while an air gap sensor detects their heights. The contactless nature of the air cushion also means that there is no lubrication or other residue left on the workpiece.
Further, the even air flow of ATBT bearings ensures maximum precision and short cycle times.
The ATBT air bearing is designed with space saving in mind and can also be customised in shape and length to meet a customer’s requirements. The weight to be transported and the surface of the air bearing determine the necessary supply pressure and air consumption. An air cushion bearing with a surface of 500 mm × 100 mm has an air consumption of about 25 ℓ/min at a pressure of 0.1 bar.
Alternatively, the air bearing can be used as a large flat-surfaced vacuum ‘gripper’ merely by drawing a vacuum through the supply port. It, therefore, holds the product, while the increased contact surface area prevents damage, such as that from a conventional suction cup, of the fragile workpieces.
This technology is ideally suited to almost any task in the field of transporting and conveying flat products. Whether for loading and unloading, lifting and centring, holding and clamping items using vacuum, or for use in inspection and test devices, in precise X-Y-movement systems, or in photolithography devices, air bearings are the transport system of choice, says the company. Festo is a global player and an independent family-owned company, with its headquarters in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany. The company supplies pneumatic and electrical automation technology to 300 000 customers of factory and process automation in over 200 industries. Worldwide, Festo’s 16 200 staff in 61 companies generated a turnover in 2012 of some € 2.2-billion. Each year, 9% of this turnover is invested in research and development. Festo supplies around 30 000 catalogue products in several hundred thousand variants and some 10 000 tailor-made customer solutions each year to customers in 176 countries worldwide. In this learning company, 1.5% of turnover is invested in basic and further training.