This article originally appeared on https://blog.igus.co.uk/what-can-curved-rails-offer/
Creation of the curved rail
A curved rail seems like a rather strange phenomenon but the requirement of curvature in applications is more common than you think.
igus® drylin® linear rails are immensely popular. None more so than the drylin® W range. So, based on the popularity of this already flexible linear collection, it made sense to try and see if we could develop this range but curve it!
So that’s what we did. However, this was no small task. We quickly realized that our vision for this curved rail was going to prove to be slightly more difficult than we had anticipated. Saying that, after years of planning, designing, re-designing, crying (I'm sure there were tears along the way), and extensive testing in the drylin® laboratory, we achieved the goal of a curved linear rail!
We can now offer standard bend radii which are available as a stock item. Now that we have the technology and resources to facilitate this production, we are able to offer customized curves through custom designing of the radii, profile and also the coating.
Application examples for curved rails
The individually designed drylin® W curved linear guides have allowed igus® to help with innovative solutions for applications with limited installation spaces. A prime example of this would be within driver’s cabins of utility vehicles. A small enclosed space where monitors and control systems are designed in a tight space to ensure safe and easy accessibility.
Unlike the standard drylin® rails, the curved rail offers even more flexibility. This allows linear rails to be used in applications where it previously would have been ruled out. Examples such as curved doors on machine guards, or even on train doors, where safety and reliability are of utmost priority. With no external lubrication required and a low coefficient of friction, the drylin® rails are ideal for applications when smooth running is essential.
We have also provided curved rails in marine applications such as hatches on boats, showing the versatility of the products.
One of the key features that makes these systems stand out is the unique design of the carriages. These carriages can run on a straight rail that leads to a curved section and then back to a straight section. This is achieved through the use of specially designed spherical balls. These sit snuggly within the housings, which connect the carriage to the rail. These are made from iglide® polymers and will compensate for any misalignment, ensuring smooth travel.
Look around at your machines. I am confident there will be applications you have where a curved rail will improve functionality and production for you.