No Grease: Tribologically Optimized Plastic Bearing Materials

Nov. 14, 2022
Nicole Lang, iglide product manager at igus, sketches out the multitude of applications for plastic bearings and explains how a foray into additive manufacturing has changed the game.

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The Basics of Lubricating Bearings

igus is a materials developer is known for manufacturing high-performance plastic bearings. In this video, Nicole Lang, iglide product manager, explains how the company elevates its expertise as a purveyor of optimized self-lubricating, wear-resistant materials and components.

“It’s our knowledge into the materials themselves, and how we can have tribologically optimized materials that are suitable for use where wear-resistance is required, Lang said. “Essentially an iglide bearing takes three different components. We use a base plastic, which is responsible for wear resistance. We then add fibers and filaments to help with strength, or any type of loading or impact load, and then we add dry lubricants to help mitigate the friction in the system. These three things help create an extremely well-resistant bearing material.”

Lang goes on to explain how igus is developing its additive manufacturing business. The company, which develops custom bearings and has traditionally focused on injection molding, has traditionally sold the components that go into 3D printers, she pointed out. But that changed about six years ago, as igus redressed this strategy to help customers through their product development stages. 

“We wanted to develop a faster way to get the parts to test, but still offer the advantage of an idealized material,” Lang explained. “My colleagues in Germany worked really hard to develop 3D-printed materials, whether it be filament or SLS powders for our laser sintering service, or now we have a new DLP resin.”

The outcome of the R&D has resulted in a material that is highly wear-resistant. It undergoes the same testing as the high-performance polymer bearings and has all of the same self-lubricating properties,” Lang said.

This is the first in a two-part video series. Part 2 can be found here.

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