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Engineering Materials

Plastic Bearings Are Real & igus Is Proving It on a World Tour

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: GOOD Service!
Ann R. Thryft   3/5/2014 5:09:27 PM
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TJ, I saw that sample box in the booth and said "is that what I think it is?" and when the igus marketing fellow said "yes" I knew a lot of our readers would want one. What an ingeniously designed, very complete sample kit! Glad you are happy with it.

TJ McDermott
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GOOD Service!
TJ McDermott   3/5/2014 3:47:48 PM
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I requested a dry-tech sample box the night I read Ann's article, the evening of 3/3 on the west coast.

I just received my sample box, noon on 3/5.  That's good customer service!

The box contains 48 (!) different bearing samples, and includes a set of screens which show only those bearings which meet the screen's specification.  There's a screen for high temperature, one for chemical resistance, one for food grade, etc.

I've used Igus bearings for nearly my whole professional career, and I wish I'd had this when I started.

Charles Murray
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Re: Plastic bearings in cars
Charles Murray   3/4/2014 6:28:35 PM
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Sounds like these bearings are not used in the wheels, Andrew, so there's no need to worry.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: more plastic?
Ann R. Thryft   3/4/2014 5:55:56 PM
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That's really interesting, bob from maine, thanks for the info. The loads can definitely be significant. I can see how plastic, assuming it's strong enough, would be a possible alternative in the corrosive salt water environment, too. I've heard of lignum vitae but it was ages ago so had forgotten it--thanks also for that reminder.

bob from maine
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Re: more plastic?
bob from maine   3/4/2014 5:12:32 PM
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Ann; plastic ball bearings are used in the Marine environment and have been for years. Headstay furlers, winches, blocks all use plastic bearings extensively and they often are under significant (although low speed) loads. Also the concept of impregnated lubricant in a porous carrier material has been used in Oilite Bronze since (I think) the 1920's; friction tended to heat the bushing which released oil. A wood with natural oil lubricant has been used for hundreds of years in marine and underwater uses (water turbine bearings, marine stuffing boxes to support and lubricate the propellor shaft in larger vessels), the wood is called Lignum Vitae (sp?), and though it is now protected, is still used for that purpose. Good article though - I look forward to this being a successful demonstration for Igus.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: more plastic?
Ann R. Thryft   3/4/2014 1:46:03 PM
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Thank *you* TJ for the additional remarks. Of course plastics are going to fail faster than metals, but stating it clearly like that helps.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Plastic bearings in cars
Ann R. Thryft   3/4/2014 1:43:57 PM
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armorris, I sure understand your skepticism. But igus plastic bearings are already used in millions of cars. Please check out the links we provide.

armorris
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Plastic bearings in cars
armorris   3/4/2014 1:40:45 PM
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I am extremely skeptical. I would be extremely reluctant to buy a car that I knew had plastic bearings in it, particularly in the wheels. The article mentions a built-in solid lubricant that comes out in response to friction. Is this lubricant reabsorbed into the plastic? Does this lubricant eventually get lost, causing failure of the bearing? I am an electrical engineer, not a mechanical one, so I'm not familiar with all the details.

TJ McDermott
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Re: more plastic?
TJ McDermott   3/4/2014 1:37:14 PM
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Thank you Ann!  That states it better than I did.  Plastic bushings will let you know much faster than a traditional bronze bushing that you've exceeded the material's capability.  Both types will fail sooner than they should if overloaded, but plastic gives up much faster (melts, or the bore eggs out).

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: more plastic?
Ann R. Thryft   3/4/2014 1:06:18 PM
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TJ, basically you're saying that if you exceed the spec, the material will fail, which is true of just about every material.

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