08 June 18

Zero Friction Tensioning Device Offers Reduced Cost, Greater Control in Winding Applications

Tension control in high performance industrial winding equipment used to wind filaments, ultra-thin wire, tape, textiles and cords for many kinds of products achieves new levels of performance in speed and force with the use of zero stiction and friction air bearing technology tensioning devices.  For years mechanical systems for tension control such as dancer arms, take ups and similar devices have limited the sensitivity and control of winding operations possible due to the inherent friction and drag in the mechanical interface.  Airpot Airpel –AB air bearing actuators used as tensioning devices, overcome these limitations and allow super -sensitive measurement and control of winding  speed and force assuring consistent product quality and lower manufacturing costs.  The actuators used as tensioners, combine air cylinder-like linear actuation with zero friction air bearing technology.

The Airpel -AB provides “Force Without Friction” which is made possible by a specially shaped stainless steel piston that is precisely fitted to a borosilicate glass cylinder. The introduction of pressurized air into the air bearing’s cylinder creates a true air bearing airflow effect around the piston.

With as little as 5 PSI of air applied to the cylinder, the same air that drives the piston also produces a stiff cushion of air to support the piston and prevent it from contacting the cylinder wall.  The result is an air cylinder that delivers virtually unlimited piston life, no lubrication and clean operation. In addition, the output force of this friction-free air cylinder is reduced only infinitesimally by movement of ultra-low friction ball joints used to connect the rod. These unique qualities allow Airpot Corporation to guarantee that the Airpel -AB will exceed the life of any machine or instrument in which it is originally installed and operated in accordance with specifications.

“The Airpel -AB air bearing actuator is designed to fill a niche in the air cylinder industry where even the slightest friction, contamination, wear, or extreme temperature vulnerability of typical air cylinders cannot be tolerated.” said Mark Gaberman, President of Airpot Corporation.

Industries include, semi-conductor, optics, medical, and test and measurement. In addition to tension control,  applications may include counterbalancing and safety support for vertically positioned linear motor driven masses, precise tensioning, positioning mechanisms supporting delicate materials, sensitive force control for holding or clamping fragile materials, or precise laboratory test equipment.

Airpel-AB air bearing actuators are available in metric models with four bore diameters and ten standard strokes to provide precisely repeatable driving or supporting forces from 2 grams to 58 kg. Operating temperatures range from -20 C to +90 C.

Airpot Corporation manufactures instrument quality, precision Air Dashpots, Snubbers, Pneumatic Actuators, Airpel Anti-Stiction Air Cylinders and -AB Air Bearing Actuators. Airpot welcomes custom requirements and works with customers to adapt products to suit their individual application needs. Value added subassembly services are also a specialty. Airpot Corporation is a trusted supplier to many of the world’s most prestigious original equipment manufacturers. Visit for detailed specifications. Call or email our technical staff for application assistance and ordering information. 203-846-2021.

Key Markets:

Semiconductor processing, Electronics assembly, Medical Devices, Metrology, Test & Measurement, Laboratory Diagnostics.

Key Applications:

Counterbalancing and safety for vertically positioned linear driven motor masses, filament & wire tensioning, positioning  and manipulating optics, liquids, delicate devices, super sensitive force control, , Measuring weight, creep, tensile strength and calibration.


Airpot offers four product families in our line of customizable pneumatic actuator.

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