Once designed, ball transfer rails are available in sizes from 2″ to 18″ in diameter. Below are some advantages and disadvantages of each type:
Being able to roll or bounce your bars may be the most obvious advantage, but there are many others. For instance, your customer might use their work piece to create something that needs to snap together quickly but can easily be moved around the shop by hand. A ball transfer rail allows this flexibility.
These rail styles are very suitable for joining two pieces that are not perfectly square. Using a smooth ball and roller allows a tight, finished fit without the need for compound or leverage clamps.
There are a few ways to create specific products. A cylinder joint can be directly manufactured using these rails. This makes a convenient and reliable connection for all manufacturers.
For part shapes that are too tight for a straight seam joint, the cut-out can be aligned. This allows a straight seam with the lines of the barrel shape cut out, creating a cleaner join.
These rail styles also are very convenient for creating almost any joint. For example, there are commonly used rail layouts for:
Anchoring a shaft
A fully domed profile joint, used for casting. An intermediate profile joint (in conjunction with a lower profile joiner) for joining thin rods and cylindrical bores.
It is not surprising, then, that ball transfer rails are a common option for joining smaller diameter stock.
They can be curved to create an ergonomic fit for fingers and joints. They can have the same smooth surface as an end wall joint, while still offering holding power. Simply rolling up the ends creates a steady, even grip on a workpiece.
But at what price?
The most obvious disadvantage is the cost. You need to purchase these steel bars. They come in sizes to suit your application: small ball transfer rails, intermediate ball transfer rails, and large ball transfer rails. Each steel bar will cost you about $100 per rail, and the design and geometry is unique to each rail.
Although ball transfer rails are relatively inexpensive, they add considerably to the cost of a product.
Lots of trial and error goes into finally getting it right with the ideal manufacturing process for your specific production needs. There are so many moving parts, a process can easily get off course and get in the way of your original idea. This means that you must be thorough in every step and decision that you make. Sometimes you are throwing everything you have at your manufacturing. This doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of all you original ideas and go full bore with your production process and tooling. You can apply some of your original ideas to help you bring your new ideas to life.
This is why it’s important to incorporate new ideas and try new things to really make your production process turn out exactly the way you want. As a result, you will get a piece of hardware that you are proud of.