Protect Your Equipment, Save Money

January 30, 2018 3:10 pm


Metal chips, fluids, swarf, and other contaminants will do a number on your machine’s ball screws or linear rails. Dynamic and flexible protection is needed to keep cylinder rods, linear bearings, and ways in top notch condition. Bellows and way covers help protect critical parts without obstructing motion.

Bellows covers protect linear rails and ways

Types of Flexible Covers and Levels of Protection

There are flexible cover designs that can roll-up, bend, and flex to allow unrestricted movement through a dynamic range of motion.

Protective covers are available in various materials and types. They can be polymer-based, metal, or fabric depending on the requirements of the application.

1. Fabric Bellows are the most flexible for adaptation to high speeds and smooth-gliding applications. They are available in varying shapes, size, and materials including elastomer-coated fabrics, thermoplastics, and coated aramid fibers. Way protectors can have custom profiles (plastic stiffeners) that fit around the protect rail or way surface.

2. Fabric Shade Roll-Ups are capable of high-speed operation and have a wide shade material selection. They are ideal for travel paths with space obstructions that preclude deeper cover profiles. They are often used for added operator safety around a machine lathe.

3. Steel Sliding Plate Covers provide a low-profile option capable of high-speed operation and will endure weld spatter and hot chips. Liquids may seep through shields, so let the manufacturer know what type of conditions are expected.

4. Aluminum Roll-Ups are constructed of linked extrusions to form a barrier against hot chips and light exposure to coolants and oils. The smooth finish of the cover adds to the overall appearance of the machinery.

5. Steel-Plated Way Bellows have shields attached to the bellows’ folds to protect against abrasives and liquids. Metal-shielded bellows offer a lower-profile alternative to telescopic covers.

6. Metal Roll-Ups with steel band material are suitable for longer travels and wide spans, and some manufacturers offer a heavy-duty version (e.g. Dynatect’s Steelflex cover) that can be used as a walk-on surface for covering hazardous pits.

7. Steel Telescopic Covers offer the ultimate protection for machine ways against dropped tools, abrasives, chemicals, and coolants. Telescopic covers can be refurbished, and wipers replaced as needed. Dynatect offers full service repair and manufacturing of telescopic covers.


For Proper Cover Design, Understanding the Operating Environment is a Must

Tell your protective cover manufacturer about your application requirements such as:

  • Temperature conditions including ambient temperature and nearby heat sources
  • Exposure to environmental threats such as dust, oils, acid, coolant, weld spatter, etc.
  • The speed (velocity and acceleration) of the cover and frequency of cycle
  • Vacuum or pressure conditions
  • Load-support requirements (e.g., walk-on surface for inspection or maintenance, heavy chip load, or protection from dropped tools)
  • Orientation of cover travel (horizontal, vertical, cross rail/frontal, ceiling/roof cover)


The Industries and Applications of Dynamic Protective Covers

Protective covers are used in a variety of industries including machine tool, medical equipment, mining, energy, motion control, and transportation.  Many traditional cutting-machine tool applications require solutions for heavy coolant and hot chips. Other applications may require flexible protection in environments with extreme temperature fluctuation. Here are examples of field applications:

1. A chemical plant uses molded elastomer-coated fabric bellows to weather-seal the openings between valves or piping and a cryogenic enclosure. The material of the seal bellows must allow for motion flexibility and withstand extreme cold plus UV light exposure.

2. An arc-welding system uses a bellows-type cover to protect the track ways, ball screws, and optical encoders on the horizontal axis. from abrasives and dropped objects. Hinged, overlapping steel plates attached to the top of the bellows provide additional support against abrasives and dropped objects. The space for a telescoping metal box cover is inadequate and a roll-up cover would have left the sides unprotected.

3. An airplane manufacturer with a gantry mill system uses a 120-foot metal roll-up cover, not only for protection, but as a safe walkway path for workers to use while the machine is not moving. The gantry mill system is located beneath the floor level in pits that span the length of the machine. The roll-up also protects the gantry system from metal chips and dropped workpieces.

Boots, bellows, and way covers are customized to protect any type of machinery in nearly any type of environment.


Options for Replacing Existing Covers

By sending in old soft covers, the original design can be reverse-engineered and replaced.  Application details can also be collected with the manufacturer’s data sheets or quote request forms. Local Dynatect Representatives can assist with collecting pertinent details and making recommendations. Here are a couple videos: 1) Request bellows way cover 2) Identify the bellows shape and corresponding form.

Covers with metal components (like telescopic covers) can be refurbished to appear and function like new. Telescopic cover repair may be offered locally through a repair shop, or from the original cover manufacturer. Severely damaged or crushed covers must go to a facility capable of manufacturing new components. The cover manufacturer has a full inventory of OEM replacement parts to completely restore a cover, giving it an advantage over a repair shop. In addition, cover manufacturers have reverse-engineering capabilities to replace covers damaged beyond repair.


Are you looking for dynamic equipment guarding for moving machine parts or mechanical pinch points?

Customers can expect to receive unbiased recommendations from a manufacturer offering all styles of covers. Dynatect manufactures a wide variety of protective covers under the trusted Gortite® brand. The cover design is based on the application’s operating environment and motion requirements, taking into consideration any space restrictions. A local Dynatect representative can assist in measuring the cover, making recommendations, showing samples, and assisting in the quoting process.

Visit Dynatect’s website to learn more.

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