10 reasons to use composite plastic bearings instead of metallic

Supplier: Treotham Automation
18 October, 2017

Composite plastic bushings combine thermoplastics, fibrous reinforcements, and solid lubricants for tailored bearing solutions with predictable lifetime in a wide variety of applications.

Composite plastic bushings run without maintenance, external lubrication, resist corrosion and debris, fit precisely with little creep, conduct heat efficiently, and dampen vibrations while maintaining high compressive strength. Read on for the top ten reasons to consider plastic bearings. 

1) Lighter weight than metallic bearings

Swapping metallic plastic bushings to composite plastic bushings can reduce weight by 25% or more. The difference in density between composite plastic materials and metals - 1 to 3 g/cm3 vs. 7 to 9 g/cm3 - the weight reduction available with plastic bearings is obvious. 

2) Corrosion resistance

Metal-free plastic bearings do not rust, and most available materials will not corrode in acidic or basic solutions, or when exposed to traditional lubricants. Plastic bearings that are able to resist harsh acids, such as hydrochloric acid, as well as UV and other high-energy radiation. Chemical resistance can change with temperature and chemical concentration, so be sure to take your specific application conditions into account. 

3) 100% self-lubricating

iglide® plastic bearings are designed to run dry, without any external lubrication. Fiber reinforcements create millions of tiny chambers, which house particles of solid lubricant which are released as friction against a shaft occurs. Homogeneous blending of the plastic material means that lubricant cannot be pressed out, and will last throughout the entire service life of the bearing. 

4) Forgiving of shock and edge loads; vibration dampening

Plastic bearings run quietly and absorb or dampen vibrations. Their mechanical loss factor, and indicator of vibration-dampening capability, is up to 250 times that of metallic bearings. The fiber-reinforced material blends are tailored to specific application requirements, helping bearings stand up to shock and edge loads in a wide range of application settings. 

5) Pairs well with a range of shaft materials

Plastic bearings can pair with any shaft material without corrosion issues, but not all shaft-bearing pairs are equal. Excellent wear performance depends on pairing the right bushing material with the shaft. 

6) Excellent wear rates

When a shaft with a composite plastic bushing starts to move, bits of solid lubricant and thermoplastic abrade to fill shaft imperfections and provide continuous lubrication, minimizing stick-slip and wear. Abrasion rates drop dramatically after initial startup, becoming negligible during continuous operation. The plastic bearing offers optimal wear thickness throughout the entire wall thickness of the bearing. 

7) No maintenance required

Based on results of thousands of empirical tests, specialists can recommend plastic bearings that are ready to "fit and forget." Test data allows engineers choose the best bearing/shaft combination and predict maintenance-free service life based on application factors. When combining this with the lack of required external lubrication, you get a completely maintenance-free bearing solution. 

8) Dirt and dust resistance

Metallic bearings wear prematurely if abrasive dirt particles get into them, but plastic bearings are able to 'absorb' these particles, incorporating them into the plastic material itself. Additionally, the lack of required grease and oil does not attract debris. 

9) Special application materials available

If your application requires specific material requirements, such as FDA or EU-directive compliance, the iglide® material range offers a number of applicable products and materials. For example, iglide® A180, A200, and A500 all comply with FDA requirements, and the M250, H, Q, L280, and T500 materials are made from physiologically harmless materials. 

10) Materials and customization available for specific application needs

Whether your bearings need to run underwater, resist high shock loads, fit soft shaft materials, or run at extreme temperatures and speeds composite plastic bearings will be suitable.

igus® engineers develops numerous new plastic compounds each year (currently 16 standard materials, along with 32 specialized material options available) which are tested in bearing form in thousands of tests annually. 

Get a free igus® plastic bearing sample.

For further information and solutions using composite plastic bearings for your application please contact Treotham Automation Pty Ltd