Self-aligning spherical bearings provide versatility

August 11, 2009

Packaging-line pedestal uses igubal bearings.

Photo: igus

Not all durable bearings are made of metal.

Igus, a German manufacturer of plastic bearings and energy chain systems based in East Providence, RI, has come up with a line of versatile spherical bearings with self-aligning components—rod ends, clevis joints, flange bearings, pivot bearings and pillow blocks—made entirely of high-performance plastics that can be used in many different industries for a range of applications.

The self-lubricating, easy to install igubal bearings are vibration dampening; operate in liquids, chemicals, dirt or dust; adapt to angular deviations; and in many cases replace special housings.

igubal’s housings are made of igumid D, a highly shock-resistant plastic, while its spherical balls are made from igus’ iglide L280 material, which has a low friction coefficient.

These bearings have been put to the test in  range of applications. A manufacturer of equipment producing Blu-ray discs and CDs/DVDs used igubal rod end bearings in the coating module of a machine operated for more than 95-million cycles without any maintenance issues. And a profile-systems manufacturer used igubal bearings to replace heavy metallic roller bearings and ball bearings in a packaging-line pedestal that swivels and rotates movements. The bearings are 80% lighter than conventional steel spherical bearings and operate seamlessly in the machine, which produces 20 profiles per minute for three shifts a day, five days a week.

Another company uses igubal pivot bearings on a machine that handles food for the packaging industry. The corrosion- and chemical-resistant bearings withstand the aggressive cleaning agents used to sterilize the machine, and they don’t require grease, which could contaminate the products.