Everyone learns at a very young age, if something doesn’t work, do whatever it takes to fix it . It was a sunny but brisk Saturday, I was home from school on spring break and I wanted to ride my bike after it sat through a long cold winter. Eager to go out and ride my bike, I riffled through my dad’s tools in the garage looking for anything that resembled chain lube, sprayed my chain and was off into town. It wasn’t till days later I realized the spray bottle that I had pulled out of the cabinet wasn’t lubrication at all, once my chain seized up and broke from the corrosive ingredients in the bottle.
If a bearing housing is leaking or is somehow becoming contaminated, it is common in today’s industry to just replace the seal, and proceed with business as usual.
Bearing isolators were originally designed to retain lubrication and exclude contamination while eliminating wear on the equipment where they are installed. However, many think that the standard metallic bearing isolator will solve every lubrication retention problem they have in their plant. This was actually relatively true until recently when manufacturers have started to change their approach at the sealing solution.
For example, bearing isolators are being used today for a wide variety of applications. Shaft grounding bearing isolators are used for the electrical grounding of shafts in VFD-controlled electric motors. This is accomplished by using a traditional labyrinth jointed with a conductive ring of bristles to allow for voltage mitigation without pitting the bearing races.
Heavily contaminated abrasive environments are now being combated with the addition of a microcellular foam to the traditional labyrinth design to prevent the ingress of dust and fine particulates from the air. Non-traditional labyrinth paths are also being used to contest heavy lubricated environments where a traditional labyrinth design couldn’t be used. FDA compliant applications can utilize a few of these technologies through the use of stainless steel or Teflon based compounds.
Do you have any applications you wish you could use a bearing isolator? Leave us a comment below.