Many engineers are hesitant to use plastic bearings in their applications.With metal as the conventional material choice, many are reluctant to turn away from the default. We think plastic bearings are the way to go and we think you’ll agree after you read this article!
Lots of engineers are coming around to the versatility, economy, and cleanliness of plastic bearings. There are many low-cost materials available for a variety of applications, such as Nylon, Teflon, Polyethylene, and PEEK. Plastic bearings are generally made of a thermoplastic alloy with a fiber matrix and solid lubricants, accounting for their superior strength and consistently low coefficient of friction. Take a look at this list to find out more reasons to make the switch to plastic bearings.
1) They’re self-lubricating! As soon as they start moving, the inherent qualities of the plastic lubricate the bearing, reducing any delay in start-up and keeping the area clean. Microscopic bits of the bearing abrade and serve to lubricate the bearing at the outset, but there is negligible change to the bearing itself. This also makes plastic bearings better for food applications because the FDA strictly limits the use of lubricants in food-production machinery. In addition, while dust and other particles will stick to lubricants and create a layer of grime, with plastic bearings, any particles will simply embed themselves in the bearings, having no effect of performance.
2) They’re super strong! Plastic bearings can operate continuously at any temperature between -40°F and 500°F and withstand peak temperatures of up to 600°F. Plastic bushings can be just as strong as metal ones but with thinner walls, typically ranging from 0.0468”-0.0625” thick. The thinner walls are better at dissipating heat, leading to both the greater operating range and reduced wear. In addition, the thin walls are lighter and less likely to deform, making them good for applications where weight is an issue.
3) They’re eco-friendly! Because of their weight, plastic bearings are much more fuel efficient. Plastic bearings need no additional coatings or additives to produce the same results as metal components which are often supplemented with harmful elements. Also, plastic production only requires about 10-15% of the oil than the same amount of aluminum or steel requires.
4) They’re chemical resistant! Plastic bearings are often much more resistant to various chemicals and substances than their metal counterparts, resisting the scratching and wear that occur with metal bearings. This serves to maintain their low coefficient of friction, moving smoothly with a minimum of interference. For more information about the chemical resistance of different materials, check out our materials guide!
5) They’re maintenance free! With the right plastic choice, your bearings will resist corrosion over time. After installation, plastic bearings will last a long time and will not need to be replaced. Corrosion can cause metal bearings to freeze in place, making them almost impossible to remove without cutting them away. Plastic bearings are easily removable.
6) They’re cheaper! Many plastics are cheaper than metals. Plastic bushing can reduce costs up to 25%.
What’s your favorite material for bearings? Let us know in the comments section below!
There are many reasons to use plastic bearings for all your applications and this list just skims the surface. Contact our sales team today to find the best plastic bearings for you!