How It Works
While air bearings provide powerful solutions, they actually operate under fairly simple principles.
How Air Bearings Work
An air bearing is a pneumatic device which forms a lubricating film of air between the load and floor surface, similar to that of a hovercraft or an air hockey table. A flexible, wear-resistant urethane diaphragm is inflated by compressed air, forming a seal with the floor and lifting the structure off its rest pads. Air is then squeezed between the floor and the diaphragm, creating a thin film of air and allowing the load to float.
On a smooth floor, this air film allows for nearly friction free movement in any direction. With an excellent air bearing floor, the volume of air required can be very low, which results in a very efficient operation. When floating on air bearings, a 1000-lb. load can be moved with about 1 pound of force – that’s 10 times better than conventional wheels or casters.
Airfloat air bearings are constructed of a smooth-textured, completely homogeneous material. When pressured the bearing will stretch uniformly and closely follow the contours of the floor, maintaining a consistent air film. This is evident with lower drag forces and less air consumption than that produced by fabric-reinforced air bearings used by some Airfloat competitors.