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IRD Balancing

March 2018 Blog Post Content



The Benefits of a Soft-Bearing Balancing Machine


Since IRD’s entry into the market in 1952, Industrial balancing machines have been separated into two categories: soft-bearing and hard-bearing machines. Here we’ll compare the two types and discuss benefits of soft bearing balancing that may make it the best solution for your operations.


The Breakdown


Hard and Soft Bearings?

Despite the names, there are no major differences between the bearing types; the difference is in the type of suspension used. Hard-bearing machines use a rigid support pedestal where a large enough centrifugal force is generated from unbalance in order to vibrate the pedestal for an accurate reading. Soft-bearing machines contain a pendulum type suspension, within the pedestal, so a lateral displacement caused by unbalance is measured. At similar balancing speeds, this differentiation allows soft-bearing machines to detect smaller amounts of unbalance for achieving tighter tolerances. For hard-bearing machines, this difference allows for faster cycle times from job to job but, not to the same tolerance level.


Hard-Bearing Balancing Machines

Most commonly found in production line environments, manufacturing facilities favor hard-bearing machines due to their quick cycle times. Hard-bearing balancers are most effective when consecutively balancing the same type of equipment. Their design revolves around an “in-place” framework where little change happens day to day or even job to job. This framework allows their manufacturers the ability to cut down setup and data input steps for faster balancing from job to job. If little to no versatility and mobility are needed, this machine excels.


Soft-Bearing Balancing Machines

Soft-bearing balancers are most commonly used in maintenance and repair environments, like those found behind the scenes of a production line or in a repair shop. These machines were designed with mobility and versatility in mind. They require more setup on the front end of a job, but this serves to give the operator a greater degree of control over the current balancing operation as well as a broader range of equipment that can be serviced.


Here’s a breakdown of each type of balancer:


Benefits of Soft-Bearing

When it comes to comparing hard-bearing vs. soft-bearing machines, soft-bearing machines have some key advantages over their hard-bearing counterparts. Below are a few key ways IRD Balancing’s machines and instruments can benefit your operations.


Lower Cost Upfront and on Upgrades IRD Balancing | A balancing machine spins a rotor to find unbalance.

No expensive permanent foundation is needed for soft-bearing machines to mount to, which means you can save a lot of money with the initial installation of your machine. The way IRD machines, like the B200, are built, flexibility and upgradeability are top-of-mind.


Easy Setup and Versatility

When you refer back to the rigors of installing a hard-bearing machine, the soft-bearing machine really pulls ahead. Soft-bearing machines can be set up on any standard floor that supports the weight of both the machine and the rotor.


You also won’t need additional bearings for heavier rotors and self-aligning, roller-bearing work supports eliminate the need for time consuming alignment and leveling procedures.  Your team can place the IRD soft-balancing machine anywhere it works for them. Flexibility is key and it’s not uncommon to see the large 280K capacity machines in a parking lot for on-site balancing jobs.


Less Damage to Journals

Damaged rotor journals are always costly. The IRD team has come up with a flat roller design that reduces that point load stress and all but eliminates any risk for damage caused to journals during balancing. Hard-bearing machines have a crowned roller system. Crowned rollers provide a reduced area of contact between rollers and journals — this causes a lack of lubrication and can lead to journal damage.



With hard-bearing machines, higher RPMs are required to reach higher balancing sensitivity and better accuracy. With a soft-bearing machine, high sensitivity is achieved at low speeds so no matter the job, balancing will always be safer.


Greater accuracy at lower speeds, bearing suspension with a pendulum action, self-aligning features, and an end thrust assembly all work to significantly reduce the likelihood of a rotor walking off of the balancing machine and therefore enhances safety — all without limiting the types of rotors you can balance.



The soft-bearing technology is not limited to a large machine. IRD offers this technology in a smaller form factor to integrate with an existing base and drive system. If you have a base, a track and drive motor with a controller, you can use IRD’s upgrade/field kits to integrate with your setup. These kits give you all the aforementioned benefits of soft-bearing balancing at a fraction of the cost.


We know that’s a lot of info to digest. If you’re still on the fence and need more info on soft-bearing machines and if they’re right for your operations, reach out to our team at (502) 366-0916, or sales@irdproducts.com.



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