From abyss to deep space

From abyss to deep space, Unimec solutions dominate borderlands

Life is easy in temperate areas where the weather is mild and the environment is not subjected to brutal conditions; but at the extremities of these territories, far from what we academically define “comfort zones”, conditions are prohibitive and can only be handled with proper equipment.

From a business perspective, the proper equipment may be considered as the sum of different factors, both tangible and intangible: technical expertise, high quality materials, manufacturing capacity, a reliable supply chain, adequate financial resources and long-term experience.

Unimec encompasses all of these traits; supported by state-of-the-art infrastructures and a driven, passionate team, the company is always eager to embrace new challenges.

Headquartered in Usmate-Velate (northeast of Milan, Italy) Unimec is a world-class leader in the power-transmission industry, particularly in the design and production of mechanical screw jacks, bevel gearboxes and special reducers for any application requiring precise and safe handling of significant loads. Thanks to its cutting-edge design and technology, each year Unimec adds dozens of unique solutions for extraordinary applications in the most extreme environments.

In sea abyss

Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, total darkness is interrupted by one single light mounted on a tiny robot working incessantly to reclaim old gas pipes and power lines, cutting them into manageable pieces with the help of a special saw: this saw is controlled by custom Unimec screw jacks, specifically developed to withstand the massive 4,367 psi water pressure and corrosion caused by the marine environment.

10,000 feet above, on the surface of the North Sea, gigantic mobile platforms delicately place new lines on the seabed. Large Unimec screw jacks ensure that the right tension is constantly maintained despite oceanic waves and currents, freezing temperatures and pressure variations on the “stinger”.  The entire application is characterized by obsessive attention to detail, including the environment: as an example, in the event of a fluid leak, the use of bio-lubricants ensures environmental neutrality for the marine ecosystem.

On the mainland and in space

Extreme applications also exist in normal environments: from a submarine-welding line requiring consistent positioning accuracy to join body sections exceeding 30 feet each, to a special press required to withstand a 10-ton hammering-action of 7,000 strokes per minute to pulverize medical compounds used in pills. Obviously, these extreme applications require special materials: the use of steels like 39NiCrMo3 capable of enduring high-stress applications, or heat-hardening treatments like QPQ nitrocarburizing, have significantly raised the bar in the design and production of these special power transmission solutions.

All of these challenging conditions, however, pale in comparison to the quintessential extreme environment, the place where no life can exist unless supported by the highest technology that mankind can engineer: Space, the last frontier.

For years Unimec has worked with companies involved in space observation and exploration with many special solutions; however, there are two truly unique applications that were recently developed.

Large Unimec screw jacks ensure that the right tension is constantly maintained despite oceanic waves and currents, freezing temperatures and pressure variations

The first application involves an emergency procedure to be performed on the International Space Station: in case of failure of the motorized system, astronauts must perform a so-called EVA, Extra-Vehicular Activity, and manually operate a bevel gear reducer completely made in stainless-steel, including the bearings and all of the internal gears, and finished with a special ion-nitriding process.

The most recent application brings Unimec back to Earth, more precisely on the Cerro Armazones in Chile, at an altitude of 10,033 feet, where in 2024, the European Southern Observatory, will install the ELT (Extremely Large Telescope) the largest telescope in the world. Unimec has been entrusted with the supply of special transmissions requiring impressive features: no exposed lubricants (the lubricant particulates could potentially contaminate the lenses), UV-radiation resistant materials capable of withstanding significant night and day temperature variations, with a certified lifetime of 50 years to cap it all.

What seemed to be an impossible challenge was successfully replicated and real-life tested with the help of Unimec’s proprietary testing centers, unique custom-commissioned machines capable of replicating any application requirements in house. After this preliminary study phase, a simulated use of 50 years of operation conducted by the customer, has produced incredible results in terms of wear and reliability over time to the point that no spare parts are required unless in fortuitous circumstances.

You don’t need to be the least expensive on the market (with products of questionable quality), nor do you need to be the largest industrial conglomerate on the planet to be the best in the world: a true champion dares to venture where others fear to go, over the limits of what was thought to be possible, moving the line one step forward, towards the impossible.