A joint venture: Custom engineered solution supports Aussie athletes

A joint venture

As the 2022 Commonwealth Games come to a close in Birmingham, all eyes have been on the sweeping success of Australia’s elite sporting heroes. Taking home more gold medals than any other participating country, our representatives lead the standings across major categories including netball, diving, cycling and cricket.

In the four-year period between the Games, athletes train rigorously to maintain their skill level and fitness, with a strong focus on mobility and muscle health. Recently, when a major sports training facility undertook repair on a key piece of safety equipment, they sought engineering advice through NTN-CBC’s service channels.

“The site was setting up a new portable cycle ergometer calibrator – this is a small machine that measures the rotational torque needed by a crankshaft to move through a complete cycle.” Explains Breanna Knotek, Product Application Engineer for NTN-CBC Australia.

“In simpler terms, it is used to make sure that the stationary exercise bikes in the gym are working correctly. If the person operating the bike is exerting too much force to rotate the peddle, then it’s likely that the calibration needs adjusting.”

After attempting to equip the unit with an ill-fitting CV joint, the customer reached out to NTN-CBC for help. Due to travel restrictions associated with Covid-19, an on-site visit wasn’t possible, so a remote assessment of the application needed to be carried out. This included identifying the dimensions and angle of rotation to come up with a correctly measured alternative.

“We quickly realised that the CV joint wasn’t going to work, and that we needed something with greater flexibility, like a tri-ball joint,” Breanna says. “These are not really something that we keep on the shelf in standard sizes, as they make up part of the engineering services we offer. But liaising with my engineering counterpart in Japan, we worked on a custom design that would sit neatly in the system and give long-term reliability to the machine.”

A tri-ball joint, Breanna explains, has three balls that are positioned as a triangle, to transmit the torque in the system. These rotate around each other and a stop-ring, giving increased shaft protrusion flexibility. It is a unique category of constant velocity joint, commonly used on small automation units, through to heavy industrial equipment on mineral processing plants, and steel or paper mills.

Ensuring complete constant velocity often requires a tailored design, and the NTN Tri-Ball Joint gives increased transmission efficiency with an extremely accurate operating angle. It is easy to install, with pin or key setting of the boss type, and inside expansion that allows for micro-adjustment.

The NTN Tri-Ball Joint has excellent lubrication and sealing properties, streamlining maintenance, and ensuring an extended wear life. Dust protection and waterproof exterior are ensured by a complete seal with a rubber boot, and it features a stop-ring which prevents the ball from slipping off the outer race.

“Aside from their impressive reliability, our product has extremely high torque capacity,” says Breanna. “The rotation is smooth and quiet, and doesn’t need re-lubricating very often. NTN was the first company to commercialise constant velocity joints in Japan, so they have brought many years of research and product development to the Australian market, bolstering that expertise through the partnership with CBC.”

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