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Fluidic muscles add flexible power at Firmac
For over 30 years Scarborough-based Firmac has led the way in the design and manufacture of high quality metal duct forming equipment and HVAC machinery built entirely in the UK. The company's latest machine, which manufactures galvanised and stainless steel H&V ducting for a client in Switzerland, incorporates innovative, Thorite-supplied Fluidic Muscle technology to replace mechanical cylinders, providing fast and accurate activation of tensioning clamps.
Manufactured by Festo, the DMSP Fluidic Muscles are powered by compressed air and provide outstanding performance. Their single-acting pulling action is completely free from stick or slip effects and features acceleration values of up to 100m/s_ and speeds up to 3m/s. In the new Firmac machine the fluidic muscles are used to position the tensioning clamps relative to the varying steel coil widths and profiles used to form the ducting, instantly positioning sliding blocks to grip the steel.
Each fluidic muscle generates 10 times the force of a mechanical cylinder of the same diameter and because the unit has no piston rod and dynamic seals it is ideal for use in very aggressive working environments. By proportionally varying the operating pressure the units can act in the same manner as a human muscle, with a stroke length of approximately 10% of its unpressured length, hence the cylinder's name.
Mark Clayton from Firmac's drawing office is impressed with the simplicity and performance of the Festo units and said: "Firmac selected the Festo pneumatic muscle to use in our new product folder section due to its high reliability in the field. The muscle gives 10 times more power per footprint where space is at a premium, while providing more control over cylinders in a smaller area. Other benefits of the Festo unit include no mechanical parts, which removes problems of leaking seals, giving a longer unit life over standard cylinders and the soft start built into the design also helps in our design being cable operated, which eliminates shock transmission through the cable."
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