Oil Seal Redesign
A piece of industrial equipment includes large rotating shafts supported by spherical roller bearings. These bearings allow the shaft to cant as well as rotate, an additional motion required by the machine function. Unfortunately, this canting motion necessitated a complex oil seal arrangement. The client’s original design functioned well, but required many parts. Tripod Innovation undertook a project to simplify this system.
Redesign was accomplished using a Clean Slate strategy, an effective tool for design simplification. Rather than prune components from an existing design, one assumes the most basic arrangement as the starting point. Complexity is slowly reintroduced, but only after careful consideration. The Clean Slate strategy frees the designer from any implied constraints, fostering creative thinking.
In this instance, the shaft, bearings, and housing were considered the only essential elements. The remaining original components, their function and relationship to the overall design were then examined. Some components were redesigned to serve multiple functions. Others could then be eliminated, as their functionality was absorbed into the new components. This intermediate design was then reviewed, and the process begins again. Through multiple iterations of examination and simplification, the sealing system became more streamlined.
Using this technique, Tripod Innovation delivered a substantially simpler sealing system. The number of parts was reduced by half while providing the same level of bearing protection as in the original design.