Innovative motion control solutions since 1947

Firestone Airmount Isolators: Good Vibrations

Is there really such a thing as ‘good vibrations’ when you’re in an industrial setting? Perhaps somewhere, but by and large, what you want is some way to keep the vibrations at bay, away from the fragile bits and pieces. The traditional solution for this problem is ‘solid state’ — in that it’s a metal spring, or some other form of flexible-but-solid material such as hard rubber that has give, but isn’t fluid.

The Firestone Airmount isolator is a beast of a different stripe, because the load-bearing element is quite literally air. The unique four-layer-but-two-ply construction of the vulcanized rubber ‘bubble’ keeps the air in place, but doesn’t itself hold any weight whatsoever. This gives the Airmount some incredible advantages no other isolator has, like:

  1. Incredibly Low System Frequencies: Most isolators have system frequencies around 8 hertz; the Airmount can go as low as 60 cycles per minute — that’s 1 hertz — and it can drop even lower with the addition of an optional auxiliary reservoir.
  2. Constant System Frequencies: Whereas most ‘solid’ solutions have a system frequency that changes as the load gets greater (and thus requires the load to be evenly balanced across all isolators), the Airmount’s natural system frequency is independent of weight — so your load can be imbalanced without affecting the Airmount’s ability to reduce vibration.
  3. Wide Weight Range: Airmount isolators can handle as little as 100 up to as many as 100,000 pounds per mounting point.
  4. Compact, Controllable Height: The Airmount isolator stands a mere 2.5 inches high (at minimum), giving much better isolation than a metal spring at 1/2 to 1/4 the height — but because the height is controlled by its internal air pressure, if you need your Airmount to run a little taller, that’s not a problem, either.
  5. Noise Reduction: Unlike solid solutions, the Airmount transfers almost no noise from one side to the other, and generate even less noise on their own.

Because the Airmount is so compact and so effective at isolating vibration, it’s often used twice: once between a piece of heavily-vibrating machinery and the structural elements around it, and then again between the structural elements and any particularly sensitive equipment on the same system. Used thusly, they promote both structural stability and can dramatically extend the life of sensitive equipment compared to conventional solutions.

Firestone Airstroke Actuators vs. Air Cylinders

Firestone Airstroke Actuators vs. Air Cylinders

When you have a pneumatic system being used to lift, push or pull– whether it’s a scissor lift or conveyor belt take up– the default tool for the job is an air cylinder. An air cylinder is essentially a closed, lubricated tube with a piston and rod assembly inside of it that moves outward as air is forced into the cylinder.

However many pneumatic system applications can be better designed using an Airstroke Actuator. The Airstroke Actuator has several distinct advantages over the classic air cylinder, including:

  1. Cost: The Airstroke Actuator can cost as little as half of an air cylinder that delivers similar force — and the cost savings goes up as the cylinders get bigger!
  2. Lifespan: Airstroke Actuators are designed and manufactured using Firestone’s patented Airide spring technology, provide a lifespan meaningfully longer than that of an air cylinder.
  3. Maintenance-Free: Try saying that about an air cylinder! Airstroke actuators require no lubrication, no maintenance, and in fact have no internal piston and no seals to break down.
  4. Friction-Free: Because there are no seals sliding inside, there is no ‘breakaway’ friction to overcome with an Airstroke Actuator — the response is smooth and instantaneous.
  5. Curved Motion: Without the need for any special machinery, an Airstroke actuator can easily extend along a 30-degree arc.
  6. Compact Size: Airstrokes have a much lower profile when fully retracted than a traditional air cylinder — between 2.2 and 5.5 inches, and can achieve long stroke lengths of up to 14 inches!
  7. Works In Multiple Mediums: While we’re comparing them to an air cylinder here, the Airstroke cylinder can just as easily become a Fluidstroke cylinder (don’t tell Firestone we called them that!) — because they function just as well using a fluid medium.

So What Is an Airstroke?

In short, an Airstroke actuator is a vulcanized rubber tube, carefully shaped so that as it collapses, it folds in on itself in as compact a manner as possible. As air (or another medium) flows in, the tube’s shape causes it to extend firmly and evenly in a specific direction. So next time you are designing a pneumatic system that requires up to a 14 inch stroke consider the Firestone Airstroke Actuator for the job.