Noise exposure is also Australia's most common preventable cause of occupational hearing loss, with Worksafe Australia estimating that a million employees in this country may be exposed to hazardous levels of noise at work. Damage to hearing can occur when noise levels are higher than 85 decibels, which is about the loudness of heavy traffic.
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Industrial materials processing, handling and packaging plants are areas where Wearlon nylon roller and gear components offer extensive scope for noise and friction reductions, with applications including load slide and wear parts in materials handling, conveyor and ports and transport logistics equipment.

Engineering plastics specialist Cut To Size is on a mission to address industrial noise OH&S issues at their source.

"One highly effective way in which the noise problem can be addressed at its root cause (rather than through hearing protective devices, valuable though they are) is in the substitution of engineering plastics in application areas where quiet running, low weight and low friction are advantageous," says Cut To Size NSW manager Pat Flood.

He says one of the most versatile materials increasingly substituting for more expensive metals includes the Wearlon family of nylon polymers, which extends from the most commonly used and cost-effective PA6 semi-crystalline polyamides through to especially formulated types such as PA12, which is used where greater shock loads and vibrations damping efficiency are required in rollers, gears and pinions.

Cut To Size manufactures machinery components from such materials for applications across Australasia from its head office in Sydney where facilities include CNC machining facilities coupled with GibbsCAM and Solidworks software.

"Wearlon nylon is used across many industries to reduce noise and reduce machinery rail wear, with applications including food and beverage, mineral processing, agribusiness materials handling and industries that want to avoid corrosion or the need to use lubricants that can contaminate production," says Flood.

Nylon rollers, for example, offer high wear resistance, low friction and lower noise where a part slides over the roller surface. Nylon rollers also offer savings in maintenance costs and, being non-corrosive, offer all-weather performance in outside installations, including mineral processing plants and logistics operations. Uses include beam trolley rollers, monorail rollers and turntable rollers, as well as vital parts on conveyors and belts.

"Cast nylon trunnion wheels can also be used to reduce plant operation noise and reduce wear on rotating barrels," says Flood.

Nylon trunnion wheels can be used in noise and vibration-prone applications where they support vertical barrel loads and dual thrust loads.

Wearlon trunnion rollers protect their running surfaces while providing good damping of vibration and noise in applications such as rotary drum screens, wire cable windows and rollers and guide wheels in transport vehicles, crane carriages, crane tracks, trolleys, storage and retrieval systems, as well as handling systems and applications with rolling movements (such as vertical conveyors, bucket elevators and trough conveyors).

Cut To Size extrudes components manufactured from nylon rod diameters below 50mm and casts them above this measure. Components made from sheet material 10mm thick and lower is extruded, while 10mm and above is cast.

"Cast nylon is better for machining the larger components, because it is slightly more ductile, has less internal stresses and has more consistent density compared with the extruded material in these sizes. So, we use casting to deliver optimum long-term performance in larger components," says Flood. 

While the Wearlon family often offers a highly cost-effective solution to noise, friction and wear abatement issues, Cut To Size also engineers components from a full range of engineering plastics from world class suppliers, including nylon, acetal, PTFE, polyurethane and specialist high-performance products.

Specialist products include the Wearlon family of LiNNOTAMHiPERFORMANCE polyamides, for example, which are partially crystalline, thermoplastic high-performance polyamides which, using carefully formulated additives and modifiers, have been specially designed for the demanding requirements of specialty components in machinery design.

These include production-critical applications, such as production automation and high-volume product processing and conveying where downtime costs are considerable, and producers wish also to avoid the hazards of replacing heavier and more labour-intensive machinery components.

The high-performance polyamides are part of Cut To Size's nationally available Wearlon ranges from the international manufacturer and fabricator of engineering plastics, Licharz, which produces the globally proven LiNNOTAM family of light but rugged polyamides for easy machining and especially long service lives.