What is Laser Alignment?
Laser shaft alignment is a method of achieving shaft co-linearity—horizontal and vertical straightness—with a laser. Roughly half of all machinery fails due to some degree of misalignment and requires connecting shafts to be tested and re-aligned. Measurements can be performed with a feeler gauge, calipers, straightedge or dial indicator(s), but laser shaft alignment offers the distinct advantages of portability along with unrivaled speed and precision measurement.
A laser shaft alignment tool performs measurements by means of two sensors mounted on two connected shafts. Both sensors fire a laser beam and receive the other sensor’s beam simultaneously; a comparison of the beams reveals whether the shafts are aligned and within a specified tolerance. The data then appears on a display unit, tablet or PC, allowing for analysis and correction to be performed.
Considered to be on the cutting edge of dimensional analysis in the world of manufacturing, laser alignment tools are vital allies to test engineers charged with mechanical reliability. Laser beams are free from the laws of gravity, immune to bracket sag and eliminate coupling anomalies. A laser shaft test system can rotate to compensate for coupling anomalies, calculate precise values for horizontal and vertical (shimming) corrections, and can even measure more than two machines, all in the same measurement. Some laser systems even measure flatness, straightness, and parallelism.
Why is laser alignment important?
Laser shaft alignment is an invaluable practice in every industry as misalignment is the leading cause of coupling, bearing and seal failures, energy losses, extreme temperature fluctuations and harmful levels of machinery vibration. Noticing a worn component or a shifted pipe can mean the difference between replacing your motor and pump system or enhancing its lifespan by years. Verifying shaft co-linearity also reduces costly downtime by eliminating the need to take apart sections of your motor or pump for repair. With a user-friendly laser system to guide their measurement, users can quickly assess the shaft's condition and correct in both the horizontal and vertical planes.
How to use a laser shaft alignment tool for rotating equipment
- Perform pre-alignment check
- Perform rough alignment
- Eliminate obvious soft foot
- Tighten bolts
- Perform final soft check
- Mount sensors to stationary and movable shafts or hubs
- Turn on lasers
- Follow on-screen prompts
- Enter dimensions
- Select tolerances
- Perform readings, 3 measurement points
- Correct for both horizontal and vertical misalignment
Watch this video for a step-by-step shaft alignment performed with the Vibralign Fixturlaser EVO