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PortaPivot door

Putting a New Spin on Glass Doors with Plastic Bearings

In this case study, Belgium company PortaPivot uses igus plastic bearings to help heavy assemblies open with ease.

A Belgian company has put a new spin on assemblies for glass doors that makes it easy to add natural light to any room, all without the burden of framing. The innovative products from PortaPivot have captured the attention of the interior design and architectural community, which have showered the company with multiple awards.

The uniqueness of the door assemblies comes from their ability to have doors swing 90 deg. in one direction, or 180 or 360 deg. in both directions, all with extreme ease. “It’s not like glass doors in the supermarkets, where you feel a great deal of resistance when you push them,’’ said Koen Dries, the company’s sales and marketing director. “Since our doors are exclusively designed for indoor use, they do not have to be designed to withstand strong wind.”

The key to the door assembly packages are Stealth Pivot hinges that move with highly durable plastic bearings. Manufactured by igus, the Germany-based motion plastics manufacturer, the bearings are rated up to 150 kilograms (about 330 lb) and support the complete weight of the door. The door assemblies are made with a minimal anodized aluminum frame and are available in three colors. They can be fitted with tempered safety glass in 6 or 8 mm.

Custom-made, Self-assembled

PortaPivot has been developing innovative door systems under the name of ANYWAY doors since 1995. The company initially focused on Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, but has been selling products on the global B2B market for about a year.

The products are custom-made, self-assembly kits. They are frequently used by interior professionals, door installers, and high-end carpenters. The assembly is available in black, brown, or aluminum finishes, and aluminum lines can be glued on top of the glass for creative and aesthetic design purposes.

PortaPivot doors with Stealth Pivot door hinges operate effortlessly and reliably with help from iglide plastic bearings manufactured by igus. (Source: PortaPivot)

Glass doors have become popular in office interior design in the past few years, as the size of offices has shrunk by about 30% to about 175 sq. ft. per employee. Besides adding natural light, glass doors are also becoming more prevalent in office settings to invite collaboration and improve camaraderie.

Demountable interior glass also provides flexibility, allowing property managers to adjust office space size based on manpower or tenant shifts. Interior glass is also more durable and requires less maintenance than drywall, and some glass systems even allow information to be written or projected upon them.

The appeal of glass in interior design, coupled with the surge in construction projects, has resulted in high product demand for glass with no signs of abatement. Glass has also seen its popularity increase in residential construction projects.

PortaPivot doors have won several prestigious awards in recent years, including the Reddot and the iF design award. The company also won Best Architectural Product (AZ awards), the Muuz International Award for design and innovation, and the Best Products Award from The Architect’s Newspaper.

Hinging on Plastic


PortaPivot doors are manufactured with the iglide Q290 and are designed for moderate to high loads. The iglide Q290 material has a tensile strength of 14,070 psi at 68°F, compressive strength of 9,863 psi, and a modulus of elasticity of 445,800 psi.

The Stealth Pivot design makes heavy doors nearly feather light to open. The hinges contain adjustable gas press springs and two plastic bearings from igus. PortaPivot’s objective in designing the doors was to make service interventions obsolete. The igus bearings used in the hinges are maintenance-free and offer a low coefficient of friction and wear. Lubricants are embedded in millions of tiny chambers as microscopic particles and eliminate the need for external lubricants, such as oil and grease. The dry operation also prevents dust and dirt from adhering to the bearing points and does not contaminate doors and floors with filthy lubricants.

The PortaPivot doors are manufactured with the iglide Q290, and are designed for moderate to high loads, especially on soft shafts. The material is resistant to edge loads and can be used in applications up to 284°F. The bearing has demonstrated outstanding service life in robust pivoting applications and is frequently found in agricultural machinery.

Metal alternatives were used in previous generations of door hinges, but they required more installation space due to a greater bearing wall thickness, which caused the door to occasionally slip or stick. The doors also squeaked and did not operate smoothly.

Initially, designers used igus’ iglide G material, a versatile bushing that is appropriate for a wide range of applications. During product development designers worked to upgrade to the more durable iglide Q290.

Deciding on Durability

Designers chose the material to give added durability to the Stealth Pivot. The weight of the doors rests entirely on the flange of the bearing. In most other applications, the bearing does not absorb the full force of the pivoting movement.

Based on the load-bearing surface, the application results in a surface pressure of 20 MPa, the equivalent of 2,900 lb per square inch. Most iglide materials absorb the pressure with ease. But edge loads caused by the leverage effect of swinging the door, in conjunction with the load applied across the flange and cylinder, add additional stress to the bearing.

The iglide Q290 material is one of the company’s most durable products. It has a tensile strength of 14,070 psi at 68°F, compressive strength of 9,863 psi, and a modulus of elasticity of 445,800 psi. Each unit that has a density of just 1.27 g/cm³.

Technology Meets Craftsmanship

Wim Laporte, area sales manager for plain bearings, igus Belgium (left); Koen Dries (center), PortaPivot, sales and marketing director; and Lars Butenschön (right), iglide plain bearings product manager, igus GmbH.         

PortaPivot products are created and engineered by the designers of ANYWAY doors, which was founded in 1995 and specializes in high-end, made-to-measure interior doors and wardrobe products.

The company combines the strength of its technology, engineering, and design capabilities with local craftsmanship from the world over. Architects and designers can find out information about the products on the PortaPivot website.

“We sell our pivot door hardware as self-assembly kits that can be purchased exclusively through our website, where they can be configured to meet the customer needs,’’ said Rudi Dries, the company’s founder. “This is how we combine our own product, engineering, and experience in assembly and installation with that of our customers’ local network, their expertise, and their local suppliers.”

Nicole Lang is the iglide North American product manager for igus. More information is available on the igus Tech Talk website.

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