28 March 2023

In recent years, igus polymer bearings have emerged as a reliable alternative to traditional steel bearings, offering a wide range of benefits.

These include the fact that polymer bearings are maintenance-free, self-lubricating, and corrosion-resistant, making them suitable for use in harsh environments. They are also lightweight, wear-resistant, and offer excellent shock absorption, making them a popular choice for use in various applications.

The history of bearings dates back to ancient times, and while steel bearings have been the norm for a long time, they are not without their limitations. Defects and overloading can cause fractures in steel bearings, prompting the need for innovative solutions like polymer bearings. With their numerous advantages, it’s no surprise that polymer bearings from the global leader in polymer bearings, igus, are gaining popularity in various industries.

Juan-Eric Davidtz, product manager for igus

Prime solution

Juan-Eric Davidtz, product manager for igus says, “The proof is in the pudding; we can prove that after using polymer bearings your production line would run better, faster, cheaper and longer. Bearings are such a fundamental part, without them, most operations will come to a halt, which directly impacts the manufacturing process.

Bearings are a part of almost every machine that transfers motion and its no wonder that the world is turning to maintenance and lubrication free bearings that far outlast traditional alternatives. Here are benefits of using igus motion plastic bearing:

  1. Maintenance-free because of the low coefficient of friction between plastic and stainless
  2. Noise Control: Plastic has the inherent ability to dampen vibrations
  3. Self-lubricating: Steel bearings require lubrication to reduce friction, dissipate heat and prevent corrosion. Due to the design of plastic ball bearings, there is no metal-to-metal contact, which results in less friction
  4. Cost saving: with product integration a plastic bearing can be mounted into other components or parts such as plastic wheels, pulleys or housings. This integration lowers assembly time and results in the use of fewer parts, increasing affordability
  5. Reduce material waste: through custom designs that are readily and inexpensively made. This allows engineers the freedom to design the bearing around the device
  6. Corrosion-resistant: ball bearings can be utilized in environments destructive to conventional bearings. Plastic, by its nature, does not corrode. Igus bearings can operate in hostile environments such as seawater, silicon wafer processing, plating solutions and swimming pools
  7. Cleanliness: Plastic bearings generally operate cleaner than metal bearings because they do not need lubrication, they are resistant to corrosion, and they can be washed down which makes them a viable option for cleanroom environments, and wash-down applications
  8. Weight saving: Lightweight: Plastic is five times lighter than steel, thereby reducing the weight and energy to move them
  9. Wear-resistant Non-Magnetic: Plastic ball bearings become completely nonmagnetic when fitted with polymer, glass, or nonmagnetic 316 stainless balls. They are ideal for use in MRI X-ray equipment or sensors where there cannot be magnetic distortion
  10. Shock Absorption: Plastic absorbs shock loads better than metal due to its elastic nature. Many conventional ball bearings fail due to the brinelling of the raceway, i.e. balls denting the raceway

History of bearings

Sticking to what you know is a no-risk no-reward way of conducting business however when looking at the history of bearings dating back to ancient Egypt around 2,600 BC bearings have been long overdue for an update.

Bearings were discovered while building the pyramids, and since then bearings have developed from tree stumps to the wooden wheel. From uses in bicycles to planes until in 1794 the ball bearing as we know it was patented to a British inventor and ironmaster, Philip Vaughan.

Since then, ball bearings evolved tremendously in size, shape movement, and variety of applications in addition to different types of steel. However, defects such as microcracks, shrinkage cavities, bubbles, large foreign objects, overheated tissues, and local burns of bearing parts also cause defects or overload fractures where the reason why engineers had to come up with innovative solutions. Enter the latest innovation, the most advanced polymer bearings from igus.

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