About Aero-Motive®
Retractors and
Balancer

About Retractors and Balancer

Retractors and balancer From Aero-Motive®

On the following page you will learn everything about Retractors and balancers from Aero-Motive® - their application, how they work and important equipment features.

What is a spring balancer

Retractors and balancers are part of the tool guides. Retractors is also called a retriever, for balancers the term weight compensator is often used. Both types are used to facilitate the handling of tools and operate without external energy sources such as electric current or compressed air. Instead, counterbalancing is accomplished by a spring that compensates for the weight or gravity acting on the tool with appropriately adjusted preload, making the tool appear almost weightless to the operator. All tool guides have a support cable with a load suspension device to which the tool can be attached.

For what purpose is Retractors used

Maintaining the highest quality while continuously improving efficiency in industrial manufacturing and assembly processes are challenges that every company in this environment must face. Optimizing the ergonomics of work processes and the organization of the workstations themselves make an important contribution to this. Aero-Motive Retractors and balancers are used by our customers worldwide to achieve these goals. The use of our products noticeably reduces the physical strain on employees in repetitive work processes, making them more efficient and additionally reducing absenteeism and related follow-up costs. In addition, tidiness in the workplace is significantly improved, as the tool returns to its original position after use and is thus always ready to hand. Particularly sensitive tools can also be perfectly protected, as they are prevented from falling. Last but not least, the handling of heavy tools, such as hand-held welding guns or joining tools, is made possible at all by the use of balancers, thus opening up great potential with regard to flexible manufacturing processes.

Important fields of application are all manufacturing and assembly workplaces in industry. In particular, Retractors and balancers are used in the automotive industry and its suppliers, in the manufacture of consumer electronics such as household appliances or "white goods" or consumer electronics, in industrial automation as well as medical technology and the manufacture of heavy equipment.

Tools used with spring balancers or balancers are typically electric or pneumatic tools such as screwdrivers or rivet guns, heavy tools such as welding guns or joining tools, sensitive measuring instruments or even packaging equipment or hand-held scanners. However, they can also be used as strain relief for energy supply lines such as robot supply lines or as handling aids for operating elements.

To meet the requirements in a wide variety of applications, the Aero-Motive range offers a large selection of different product series with a large number of variants. In addition to specific load ranges, products also differ in the design of the housings - from impact-resistant ABS plastic housings to thick-walled die-cast aluminum housings - and the suspension cables in terms of length, material (wire rope, nylon rope, nylon coating, stainless steel, etc.), cross-section, wire rope construction and additional features such as electrical insulation of the load handling attachment. In addition, a spring balancer can be equipped with locking device, spring fracture protection, fall protection and many other functionalities.

Aero-Motive® Retractors RB series with application
Aero-Motive® Retractors F-series

How does a tool guide work

Both balancers and Retractors operate with preloaded coil springs. Retractors are designed to return the attached tool or load to its initial position when no additional tractive force is exerted from it. The mainspring is located in a cylindrical drum onto which the suspension rope is wound. In the rest or initial position, the spring force corresponds exactly to the weight force acting on the tool. In order to guide the attached tool or load to the desired position, a slight downward force must be constantly applied. The retraction torque of the mainspring increases with increasing extension length and ensures that the attached tool/load is retracted to the highest set position without counterforce. The spring tension is adjusted to the respective application via the adjustable preload of the spring.

Balancers or counterbalancers - unlike Retractors - provide perfect weight compensation over the entire rope extension, making a specific load appear "weightless" at any point along the extension length. Perfect weight compensation is achieved through precise control of the mainspring tension and the design of the tapered rope drum, which is matched to the torque increase of the mainspring. The increasing spring force with increasing rope extension is balanced by an equally increasing lever arm and thus increasing torque through the point of application of the suspension rope on the conical rope drum. The attached tools or loads weigh almost nothing more in the hands of the operators, reducing fatigue and allowing them to work more efficiently throughout the shift, thus increasing productivity.

This means that balancers are also suitable for handling heavy tools, whereas Retractors is used more in the lower payload range, which can be seen clearly in the following illustration.

The series RB, RF, F as well as FRLC are Retractors. The AB, BF, EB, EA/EL, JA, KA and LA series are balancers.

In addition to the basic functions, the Aero-Motive Retractors and Balancer have a number of other features and functionalities:

External tension adjustment: The pretension of the mainspring can be easily adjusted to the weight of the suspended load while simultaneously adjusting the feed speed

Upper suspension: The upper suspension allows the unit to be securely mounted or secured within applications. Fixed suspensions have only a small degree of freedom in the axis of rotation, while other designs allow the unit to rotate 360 degrees.

Automatic safety lock: This is an internal mechanism that prevents a load from falling when the tension decreases or when a mainspring breaks.

Manual safety lock: Facilitates quick and safe tool/load changes without the risk of a rope snapping back.

Manual remote safety lock: Allows the manual lock to be engaged or disengaged via a driver/lever arm operated by a conveniently accessible handle at standing height.

Fall protection: Prevents the spring balancer or balancer from falling with the suspended load in the event of a break in the upper suspension, support structure, trolleys or beam clamps. Aero-Motive products are designed so that fall protection devices can be installed independently of the top suspension.

Rope replacement: Thanks to this feature, the rope can be replaced on the mounted balancer.

Housed spring cassettes: The power springs are housed in cassettes and can be handled easily and safely during maintenance and servicing work.

Locking ('ON'): A special design with locking pawls allows the rope to be locked in a specific position. The locking is released again by a slight pull on the rope. The ratchet lock is always activated due to the design.

Here you will find our model ranges that offer this feature:  

Locking ('ON/OFF'): As for Locking 'ON' with the difference that the locking function can be manually selected or deselected. The locking function is deselected in the 'OFF' operating mode.

Here you will find our model ranges that offer this feature:

Rope lock: Additional safety function that prevents the rope from snapping back with a whipping effect in the event of rope breakage or unintentional unhooking of the tool.

Disengaging spring hub: Automatically prevents damage to the mainspring when winding in the opposite direction (reduction of pretension).

WearGuard™ epoxy resin: The drum is coated with WearGuard™ epoxy resin to extend the service life of the rope and drum in harsh industrial environments.

Rope guide: Specifically designed to extend rope service life as ropes are deflected at different angles during different operations within an application. High-quality rope guides use rollers to reduce friction between the rope and the guide.

How to choose the right spring balancer for an application

Determine weight: Determine the exact weight of the mold incl. all supply lines, cables, hoses, operating media, etc. and select a suitable payload range.

Determine the rope pull-out: Determine the rope extension depending on the specific application and the installation conditions. Caution: If the available rope extension lengths are not sufficient due to the installation conditions, rope extensions can be used.

Application environment: Depending on the conditions of the working environment, different variants are available depending on the load capacity range - from impact-resistant ABS plastic housings and robust sheet metal housings to thick-walled die-cast aluminum housings. Likewise, special designs of the suspension cables may be of importance, such as a plastic sheath, rotatable bearing of the load suspension device or a special load suspension device according to factory standard.

Other functionalities: Does the application require a spring balancer with locking, fall protection, spring fracture protection or other additional functions?

If you have any further questions about applications or functions of our Retractors and balancers, please contact us and we will be happy to advise you.

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