Friction Measurement

I had a customer wanting to reject a container off a conveyor belt.  The container held fruit, and when an optic detected a reject, they wanted to operate a solenoid to have a nozzle blow the container into the reject bin.  They had a range of containers that went from 6 oz. (170 grams) to 5 lbs (2,270 grams).  He wanted me to suggest one nozzle for all sizes, as they would automatically regulate the pressure for the full range of container sizes.  In looking at the largest size, this container will need the most force to remove.  The two factors that affects the force in this application is weight and friction.  When it comes to friction, it is generally an unknown for customers.  Here are a couple of things to help in determining the friction in your application.

Strawberry Delight

Strawberry Delight

Friction is a dimensionless number that represents the resistance created between two surfaces.  We have two types; static friction, ms, and kinetic friction, mk.  Static friction is the maximum amount of resistance before the object begins to slide.  Kinetic friction is the amount of resistance that is created when the object is sliding.  So, Static friction is always greater than kinetic friction, ms > mk.  For this application, we will have the air nozzle shoot horizontally to hit the target.  This is the most common and efficient way.

Let’s take a look our customer’s application.  We have a system to reject a non-conforming part with air.  The conveyor is a urethane belt.  The container is plastic.  We need to determine the correct nozzle to reject the 5 lb (2,270 gram) container.

Being that the conveyor belt is only 12” (30.5 cm) wide, we can determine that if we get the part moving, it will continue off the belt and into the reject bin.  The equation for the maximum amount of force required to move the container is Fs = ms * W(Equation 1).

Fs – Static Force – lbs (grams)

m– Static Friction

W – Weight lbs (grams)

One way to determine the amount of force is to use a spring scale.  The spring scale should have a maximum indicator to help tell you the maximum amount of force.  You will have to attach the scale to the container on the conveyor belt. Static friction is the resistance between two surfaces; so, you will have to use the same conditions as required for the operation.  Keep the scale parallel to the conveyor.  While slowly pulling on the scale, watch the dial.  Once the part begins to move, record the weight.  For the exercise above, it showed 1.82 lbs (826 grams) of force to move the 5 lb (2,270 gram) object.

Another way would be to determine the static friction, ms.  Static friction can be found by the angle at which an object starts to move.  By placing the container on a section of supported urethane conveyor belt and lifting one end of the conveyor belt until the object starts to slide, you can measure the angle or the height of the lift.  As an example, we take 3 foot (0.9 meter) of supported urethane conveyor belt and we lifted one end to a height of 1 foot (0.3 meters) before the 5 lb (2,270 gram) container moved.  To determine static friction, it is the tangent of the angle that you lifted, ms = tan(B) (Equation 2 below).  In this example, B = 20o.  Therefore Equation 2 gives us, ms = tan(20o) = 0.364.  If we plug this into Equation 1, we get the following:

Imperial Units                                                    SI Units

Fs = ms * W                                                         Fs = ms * W

= 0.364 * 5 lbs                                                    = 0.364 * 2,270 grams

= 1.82 lbs of force                                               = 826 grams of force
Now that we have the static force, we want to be slightly higher than that.  In looking at the force requirements that are in the EXAIR catalog, it shows that a model 1104 nozzle has a 1.9 lb (850 grams) of force.  This is at a 12” (30.5 cm) distance with a pressure of 80 psig (5.5 bar).  This nozzle will be able to slide the largest containers into a reject bin. With pressure manipulation, the customer can also use this same nozzle for the smaller containers.  If you have any applications that need products to be moved, you can always contact the application engineers at EXAIR to help you with a solution.

Variety of Nozzles

Variety of Nozzles

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb


Image courtesy of Chobist, Creative Commons License

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: