New Lubricant Enhances Vacuum Capacitor Life

As requirements for cycle life of vacuum capacitors continues to grow, Jennings embarked on an extensive investigation and evaluation program in an effort to meet a 2.5 million life cycle limit on our line of Vacuum Capacitors.

Preliminary research determined the lubricant, lead screw material, and plug material will have the greatest impact effecting cycle life. In an effort to reach a higher life cycle on our products, we decided that the first change executed should be the lubricant and began by identifying lubricant options. When testing lubricants, three characteristics were taken into consideration: Protection against high contact and extreme loading, low viscosity, and high temperature resilience. Taking these aspects into account, we identified three possible lubricants to be tested and evaluated. The potential lubricants tested included a synthetic oil base, a PTFE additive, and a polymer compound.

After extensive examination, results showed that the synthetic oil base, when applied to the nut/screw combination contained a relatively low temperature for evaporation. The PTFE additive, although reduced friction, lost a lot of oil under high temperatures. The polymer soft gel lubricant protected against high contact, extreme loading conditions, and showed a high temperature resilience.

Rigorous, extensive testing of the lubricants was performed in both the materials laboratory, as well as in sub-assemblies and final assembled units. The tests found the polymer lubricant as the most promising lubricant, providing the most consistent results over a broad range of capacitor models, and extended the cycle life of the capacitors 4 times the previous length.

In addition, the lubricant offers a temperature range of -40C to 125C, at a constant speed of 500 RPM. Jennings' new, improved lubricant was added into all capacitor models in February 2000.

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