Industries that benefit from the use of guide rollers include automotive manufacturing, for use in car lifts, tensioners and other power transmission applications; construction, in off-road equipment such as lift trucks and traveling cranes for material handling applications; mining, for underwater and underground applications; healthcare, for health imaging equipment such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans; and various processing industries, such as metalworking, textile production, paper milling, foil production, film manufacturing and more.
Typical materials used to manufacture guide rollers include silicone, polyurethane, nylon and vulcanized rubber. These materials are used because they provide adequate hardness, since guide rolls must be able to provide uniform surface tension in applications such as conveyor belts and web converting in order for the processes to run smoothly. Although they can also be formed from plastic or metal, when they are formed as rubber rolls, the two main processes used to fabricate guide rollers are compression molding and injection molding.
In injection molding, the rubber material is heated to a molten state and then injected into a split die chamber or mold cavity, which is clamped shut. Next, the mold is cooled by running water over it, and the cooling allows the roller to form. In compression molding, the rubber material is also heated to a molten state. However, instead of being injected into the mold, the molten rubber is placed in an open mold. The mold is closed by top force known as a plug member and pressure is applied in order to achieve the desired shape. Since guide rolls must be manufactured from hard materials, they are often encased in jackets to ensure additional tensile strength.
For jacketed guide rollers, a rubber to metal bonding process is used. In rubber to metal bonding, rubber is adhered to a metal substrate, such as steel or aluminum, through the use of a bonding agent. The bonding agent generally consists of polymer-solvent solutions, a primer coat based on phenolic-style resins and a top layer consisting of a mix of polymers and other materials. Constructed with or without a shaft, guide rollers offer easy installation and maintenance, a low rotating mass, easy maintenance and reduced friction.