Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What Type of Leveling Device Should I Use?

Diane here, trying to resist the temptation to pun on today’s subject. You know, stuff like "in today's post I'm going to level with you." That's because today's post is all about levelers, aka leveling pads or feet or mounts. These simple devices support your machine, and therefore, are as varied in design as machines themselves.

Will the equipment be motionless or will it involve vibration that needs to be controlled? How much weight must the feet support? What type of floor will the machine stand on, and will the environment be wet, hot, caustic, sterile? Let's talk about some of these considerations and how they affect your choice for best leveling device. I promise not to "pad" this post with non-essential info. I will put my best "foot" forward. Ooh, the suspense "mounts." Sorry. Let's begin.

First, the two basic styles are:

Tapped type: These are mounts that have a tapped hole for attaching to a threaded fastener, i.e, the "female" style. Your advantage is a lower profile, but what you lose is the ability to adjust the height, as you would with a stud type. Pictured here for illustration is a tapped version of the Ny-Lev mounts we manufacture right at J.W. Winco.

Stud type: These types of leveling feet have a threaded stud for both attachment and leveling. The stud is easy to attach, and the position can be locked using a jam nut, typically included. Standard stud lengths are available, and you also have the option of cutting the stud to length. Shown here is the stud version of our Ny-Levs. We offer tapped and stud Ny-Levs in inch and metric sizes, in many base sizes, stud lengths, and different threads.

Second, choose your materials. In the interest of strength, in most cases the socket (tapped type) or stud is made of metal. However, the base material varies:

Plastic base: Pros are the lighter weight and reduced cost. Also can add vibration control. Cons are reduced load tolerance and durability. Shown is the GN 343.3, a technopolymer plastic base alternative to our Ny-Levs.

Metal base: Supports heavier loads and provides greater durability. Downside is you are adding more weight than with a plastic base. Also, you'll have poor vibration control unless you also add an elastomer pad. Here you see the GN 340 steel base leveling mount, offered with or without a pad like so many of our levelers.

Stainless steel: For food industry, medical, and other sterile applications, you may need a stainless steel base or all-stainless steel leveling mount. Many of our levelers are offered in stainless steel versions. We also have a special mount for sanitary applications, the GN 341.4 that you see pictured here.

Now consider some special features:

Non-skid: If slipping and sliding of the machine is a concern, you may want to add a non-skid pad to your leveling foot. Many of the mounts in our offering include this option. We also offer the Snap-Lock mount, pictured here, which is designed with a special snap-on non-skid pad that resists peeling off.

Swivel-ability: Whether tapped or stud type, these types of levelers include a bearing surface or other means for the base to swivel up to 15° off axis on uneven surfaces. This allows the leveling mount to adjust to uneven surfaces for maximum surface contact and greatest possible stability of equipment. Many of our levelers offer the swivel feature, like the Level-It mount, shown here.

Anti-vibe/heavy duty: Of course your choice of leveler will be determined in part by the weight of the machine it must support. Our leveling mounts dimensional tables also include load information. A corollary issue to load is the amount of vibration the machinery generates. If vibration is a concern, look for mounts designed to be "anti-vibration," like our Anti-Vibe line, sample pictured here.

Got an extreme situation like drill presses, CNC equipment, stamping presses or injection molding equipment? You may require a mount designed for super high vibration, like our "Mighty Mount" levelers, example shown here.

Anchorable mounts: All types of levelers can offer lag bolt holes, enabling the leveling foot to be secured to the floor or platform with bolts. There is also the option of a specially configured base (teardrop shape) with hole for mounting bolt, like the PolyMount shown here. The advantage of this type of foot is that it prevents "walking" of the machine. Disadvantage is that more effort is required if you want to move the equipment. Also, if you are dealing with high vibration levels, holes can add additional stress to the base and possibly result in failure.

There are also a variety of types of levelers geared for particular requirements, including:

Glides: These are designed with a pad or base material that allows the supported equipment to be easily moved by sliding. This type of foot permits easily movement and relocation. Glide base material is typically harder and more abrasive-resistant than an anti-vibration base. Downside is that vibration can cause walking and movement. Shown here is one of our Glide-Rite mounts, which offer a nylon or elastomer pad.

Low-profile design: This type of mount is used when equipment height is restricted, and permits equipment to sit lower to floor or platform. Con is that weight distribution in the pad may be limited due to thinner material. Our LP 100, illustrated here, is a low profile mount available in many variations.

Low-cost: Sometimes weight, vibration, and unevenness are not worries, and you simply need an inexpensive foot to do the job. In that case a simple leveler of one-piece design can provide cost savings, like our Rattle Mounts.

Well, that gives you a mounting number of issues to consider in selecting the right leveling device for your application. Check out even more options in our Leveling Elements section. And if you have special issues or concerns, by all means contact our Technical Sales Associates (800-877-8351) and we'll be glad to assist. We'll do everything but "foot" the bill, and that's on the "level."

Okay, now I'm even driving myself crazy with these puns!

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