Application Examples

Since our founding in 1984, PI Nelson Air's products have served the needs of a wide variety of applications and industries. Here are a few examples of the diverse set of problems that have been solved with PI Nelson Air products.

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Optical Fiber Manufacturing

When a leading manufacturer of optical fibers needed smooth, precise bearings that could withstand the harsh, abrasive environment in their plant, they turned to PI Nelson Air's LB series of linear air bushings. Traditional oil lubricated and solid composite bushings were quickly damaged by particles causing their accuracy to degrade. The self-cleaning nature of these linear air bearings allows them to operate for much longer periods without losing critical tolerances.


Large Format Digital Printing

Digital printing requires fast, accurate motion with precise velocity control and zero tilt. PI Nelson Air's long travel linear air bearings are the key to a leading printer manufacturer's digital print to film high resolution printers. These lightweight bearings deliver 50" of travel with a straightness accuracy of 0.0001" and enable the customer to achieve excellent velocity stability, resulting in exceptional print quality.

Optical Grinding

Optical grinding requires extremely accurate motion in order to achieve demanding tolerances for surface figure. When a leading optical manufacturer needed a rotary bearing with runout and flatness of rotation better than 5 millionths of an inch for integration into their custom grinding machine, PI Nelson Air provided the solution. In addition to excellent accuracy, the outstanding stiffness of air bearings allows the bearing to withstand forces without a degradation in accuracy.

Tensile Testing

Tensile testing machines need to apply precise forces while under high loads at zero velocity. Rolling element bearings exhibit significant breakaway friction which causes irregularities in the applied force. By combining a custom linear air bearing with a brushless linear motor, PI Nelson Air supplies a major test equipment manufacturer with a totally noncontact solution for their tensile testing machines. In addition, because of PI Nelson Air's experience with assembling to extremely tight tolerances, we are able to deliver this complex assembly with higher quality and lower cost than the manufacturer was able to achieve in house.

Optical Spectrometry

When a leading manufacturer of high resolution laboratory spectrometers needed custom linear journal air bearings to provide extremely precise, tilt-free, smooth motion for their scanning mirrors they came to PI Nelson Air. The noncontact nature of these assemblies also delivers the reliability and minimal maintenance today's laboratory users demand.

Satellite Research

Satellite systems attitude control research often requires simulation of a zero-g environment. Spherical air bearings from PI Nelson Air have solved this problem for a variety of government and commercial research agencies. These bearings can support significant loads with a large range of motion. PI Nelson Air also supplies full systems including mounting pedestals and air handling equipment.

Semiconductor Wafer Handling

Semiconductor processing equipment needs to operate with high reliability and minimal particle generation. Unlike traditional bearings, noncontact linear air bearings deliver exceptional reliability and lifetime while requiring zero maintenance. Because they operate using a clean air or nitrogen supply, they also generate no particles. This is why a leading manufacturer of semiconductor processing equipment uses PI Nelson Air bearings for a variety of wafer handling and transport applications.

Automotive Suspension Testing

PI Nelson Air's model 1200B linear air bearings were developed in response to the needs of a major auto manufacturer. They needed high load capacity air bearings for vehicle testing. These air bearings can support heavy loads without the binding and high friction typical of traditional bearings. Because of this they have found use in a variety of automotive applications such as suspension testing.