3 Small but Critical Inventions


Rexroth’s Indramat and Indradrive components are integral to the functioning of your equipment. Often the components have been in service longer than 30 years before they have a problem, and their owners realize just how critical they are. Let’s stop to celebrate some other critical inventions that we may sometimes overlook, but which affect our lives everyday. These are small things — literally — but they make a big difference.

Ball Bearings: Philip Vaughan, of Carpathian, Wales, invented the modern ball bearing in 1794. Back in those days, to reduce friction and prevent wear on axles, people would only use gobs of grease. These measures simply would not suffice for the bigger, faster, and more powerful machines of today. Modern ball bearings reduce the coefficient of friction by a factor of one thousand. Without them, the industrial revolution would hardly have gotten very far. We wouldn’t have high-speed electric motors and dynamos. When the bicycle and automobile came along a century later, together with machine that could grind and shape metal balls accurately, ball bearings really came into their own. It’s hard to imagine a modern factory without ball bearings.

Machine Made Nail: It seems bizarre to think of nails as rare and special things, but they once were. Nails were handmade by blacksmiths, and they were time consuming to make and expensive to buy. Nails at the time were so valuable that decrepit buildings were burned down just to recover them and re-sell them. Later, making nails by machine made them much less expensive and allowed for a much more ubiquitous use. Servo motors make super fast automatic nail production possible.

Can & Can Opener: The can and can opener made separate appearances. The can obviously came first, as you don’t need an opener for something that doesn’t exist. Canning was invented in Napoleonic France to supply the Imperial army. It was first done in champagne bottles and later in the now familiar metal cans. These cans were opened with whatever tools were handy, be it an axe, a knife, or a bayonet. Decades later, the levered knife-like can opener design came out; this was an early precursor to the cranking, wheeled type that we know today. Today, servo motors make it possible to can food safely and label the cans attractively.

If everything is humming along perfectly today, take a moment to celebrate the small inventions that have made so much difference in our lives. If your Rexroth machinery isn’t humming along so perfectly, you need us. Call for immediate assistance.

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