Small Components, Big Design Tips

In this post, we’ve partnered with the high-quality manufacturer and MISUMI partner, JW Winco. They understand the importance of choosing the right components and how much a difference they play in various application designs. So we’ve gathered some selection tips on knobs and leveling devices. Read on!

Selecting the Correct Knob

No machine component seems more elementary than a knob. But in fact, there are many possible configurations for this simple part, and choosing the right type is key to the optimal function of the machine.

Let’s review a few styles of knobs and their advantages and disadvantages, so you can select the best type for your application.

T-handle knobs:
The design of these knobs gives them strong control, in both in-and-out operations and rotating ones. Likewise, they can achieve a strong clamping force. If your application involves a limited space where only one hand can reach, these knobs work well.

[Design Tip] Sometimes a prong knob is preferable if there is the possibility of the operator being at an awkward angle.

Clamping knobs:
This category of knob includes several styles – star, scalloped, and lobed – designed to work in applications that require turning and clamping. The indentations in the rim allow for the achievement of mild to medium torque. These types of knobs are also easy to grip and work well in slippery environments.

[Design Tip] Bear in mind that for higher torque requirements, a pronged knob or even a handwheel may be preferable.

Prong knobs:
For high torque requirements, prong knobs are recommended. The protrusions on a prong knob are longer, certain star knobs may also fall in this category, increasing the leverage of the operator’s fingers. In light torque situations, one finger may be all that is required to turn a prong knob. The downside of this style is the increased surface area, which makes it harder to clean.

[Design Tip] If steady, unbroken turning is required, go with a crank or handwheel.

Wing nuts/screws:
These knobs are basically a two-pronged prong knob. Consequently, they function in applications where the operator needs to apply torque using thumb and finger only.

[Design Tip] Metal or metal-insert wing nuts can achieve quite a good clamping force.

Knurled rim knobs:
This group encompasses a variety of knob styles (ball, push-pull, clamping, mushroom, tapered) but utilizes ridges or knurls at the rim to improve grip. The knurled rim is the answer for greasy or wet environments where slipperiness must be reduced.

[Design Tip] Knurling sacrifices the ease of cleaning, so it may be a problem in clean room and food applications, etc.

Explore JW Winco’s selection of knobs on MISUMI’s website.

Choosing the Right Leveling Device

Leveling devices are also known as:

  • leveling feet/foot
  • leveling mounts
  • leveler bolts
  • antivibration pads
  • antivibration mounts
  • machinery mounts
  • levelers
  • leveling devices
  • machine feet/foot
  • articulating feet
  • swivel 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 the best leveling device.

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.

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.

[Design Tip] You have the option of cutting the stud to length.

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.

Metal base: Supports heavier loads and provides greater durability. The downside is you are adding more weight than with a plastic base. Also, you’ll have poor vibration control unless you also add a vibration-dampening pad.

Stainless steel: For the food industry, medical, and other sterile applications, you may need a stainless-steel base or all-stainless steel leveling mount.

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.

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 the greatest possible stability of the equipment.

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 a hole for mounting bolt. The advantage of this type of foot is that it prevents “walking” of the machine. The disadvantage is that more effort is required if you want to move the equipment.

[Design Tip] If you are dealing with high vibration levels, holes can add additional stress to the base and possibly result in failure.

Choosing the right component based on your application can prolong the life your machine. Be sure to check out JW Winco’s leveling mounts on our website.

What small but mighty components impact your designs? Feel free to share with us by leaving a comment.

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