Applications demonstrate benefits of plastic bearings

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Igus has a number of case studies that illustrate the benefits offered by its Igubal plain bearings compared with traditional steel types.

Applications demonstrate benefits of plastic bearingsThe Igubal system provides design engineers with a complete range of self-aligning bearings that are made completely of tribologically-optimised plastic. Igus (UK) supplies rod end bearings, flange, pivoting and pedestal bearings, as well as ball-and-socket joints. In many cases, the maintenance-free bearings replace metallic components, giving a weight saving of up to 80 per cent and with the added benefit of excellent vibration dampening.

In equipment used by Steag HamaTech (now Singulus AG) to manufacture CDs and DVDs, for example, Igubal rod end bearings are fitted in a coating module. Guenter Eisele, who is responsible for mechanical design, comments: "The components are particularly light and save design space." They can also run lubricant-free and are extremely wear-resistant. Prior to manufacturing the coating module, its operation was simulated on a test bench. Eisele states: "It ran for more than two and a half years – around 95 million cycles – and the rod end bearings still looked like new."

The profile system manufacturer Pro-Best GmbH in Rödelsee, Bavaria, is reporting similar success, having replaced metallic roller bearings and ball bearings with plastic bearings - although the company's engineers were initially sceptical. A packaging line for profiles has Igubal flange and pedestal bearings installed for swivelling and rotating movements, as well as plastic rod end bearings for absorbing tension and pressure. The system operates over three shifts, five days per week, producing 20 profiles every minute. Managing Director Hans Bernreuther comments: "The maintenance-free plastic bearings have proved their worth under extremely rough conditions: we produce lots of metal shavings; thick layers of oil and dust are deposited."

A further example for the long service life of the self-aligning bearings can be seen on the premises of Groeneweg Maschinenbau GmbH, of Edewecht. In a line used to handle bulk goods for packaging processes, Igubal pivoting bearings have to tolerate aggressive cleaning agents because the machine is used in the food industry. Stefan Groeneweg, who is responsible for purchasing and development, says: "The pivoting bearings are free from contamination, greases and cleaning agents. They are also extremely hard-wearing, which means no further costs are incurred."

Igubal clevis joints have been fitted in fertiliser spreaders made by Rauch Landmaschinen GmbH in Sinzheim for more than ten years. The plastic clevis joints are used with a KMF hydraulic cylinder in this system. During the two dynamic tests over 100 hours at -20degC and a peak load of 4000N, the service life was precisely calculated by Rauch. The plastic components proved to dampen vibration and were extremely resilient, according to the manufacturer of agricultural machinery.

The self-adjusting Igubal bearings from Igus are easy to fit, adapt to all angular misalignments and can replace metallic components in many cases. They are suitable for dry use, are contamination-free, can run in liquids and even in chemicals, and are completely corrosion-resistant. The application temperature range is from -30 to +80degC. For pivoting bearings of the dimensional series E there is also a high-temperature version available for permanent use at temperatures of up to 200degC. These also absorb very high forces. The good damping characteristics are due to the fact that the plastic material of the two-part or two-part combined bearings can absorb vibrations – in contrast to steel.

More than 800 types of Igubal bearing are available for delivery from stock, in quantities from one upwards. According to Igus, costs can be reduced by up to 50 per cent when these bearings are used. Igus has examples of around 70 applications from across the field available online at A new keyword search according to sector and application case makes it easy to find suitable practical examples quickly. Users can enter directly which factors are important (eg corrosion-free, low-noise or easy to clean).

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