The C-Flex bearing or “pivot” is a cylindrical, limited rotational bearing, with a high relative radial and axial stiffness which is available in low, medium, or high torsional spring rates. It is typically available for maximum deflection angles of +/-30°, but various configurations are supplied upon request. Torsional stiffness ranges from .0003 Lb-In/degree to 7.8023 Lb-In/degree. It can be used simply as an oscillating unit or an extremely sensitive critical element.
The advantages of cross-flexure bearings has been well documented in connection with the replacing of ball bearing pivots in optomechanical applications. One such application in which the C-Flex bearing has outperformed alternatives is the scanning mirror assembly of a mass spectometer. Here two mirrors are mounted on an assembly and laser beams are scanned across samples to be analyzed. The lubrication free, frictionless movement of the C-Flex bearings is ideal in applications such as this where the outgassing from bearing lubricants could contaminate the optics, and bearing wear due to continuous limited rotation would eventually result in movement errors.
The bearing itself consists of two stainless steel sleeves held in position by three leaf springs on two planes. There is no contact between the sleeves eliminating friction, and the springs also provide the pivotal action which is inherently self centering and requires no lubrication or maintenance. The bearing is also available with an additional sleeve allowing for central mounting providing two pivotal arms (the double end bearing, sizes AD to JD).
Other applications include those requiring accuracy without backlash, friction and wear such as gimbals or within gauge sensors where position must be accurately measured or outside forces sensed. Workhorse applications requiring the support of heavy loads for years of continuous service including mechanisms such as vibrating hoppers. Lever actuators and tensioners can also benefit from the use of these bearings. Optical/magnetic read/write heads also gain from the constant predictable spring rate-immune to the problems of starting vs. moving torque.
Free from backlash, friction and wear, the C-Flex bearing could provide the ultimate in cost effective design, allowing for easy assembly and indefinite life expectancies with undiminished accuracy. Selection of the correct bearing for the application loads expected should result in exceptional long life, even within the most arduous environment.
Custom designs for greater angular travel (+/-50°), heavy loads (>1600 lbs.), special materials (e.g., Hast X, Titanium, BeCu) or high volume/low cost can be provided.