Replacing Metal Bearings with Composite Materials

<p>Here at InsulFab Plastics, one of our main core competencies is machining tight-tolerance components made from Non-Metallic Composite materials. When we say “composite” materials, what we are usually referring to are laminated polymer-based (plastic) materials made by combining various textiles such as carbon-fiber or glass-fibres with specific plastic resins. The combination of various textiles and specially formulated plastic resins can be combined to produce seemingly infinite grades of engineered composite and plastic materials.</p><p>One area where composite materials are continuing to find increased use is with the replacement of traditional metal bearings, bushings, thrust washers, and similar bearing and wear components. Plastic composite materials offer Engineers cost-effective alternatives to traditional metal wear components. Below are few of the general physical properties and factors to consider when switching to plastic composites from metal.</p><h2>Weight Reduction</h2><p>Particularly when dealing with larger bearing and wear components, switching to composite materials offers considerable weight savings when compared to metals. Lighter weight components can improve energy consumption, improve material handling issues for maintenance personal or customers needing to install heavy metal replacement components.</p><h2>Coefficient of Friction</h2><p>Plastic composite materials offer significantly lower Coefficients of Friction than most traditional metals in both dynamic and static applications. One reason for this is that many composite materials are considered self-lubricating materials. Using self-lubricating materials can eliminate the cost associated with continual lubrication of bearing and wear components.</p><h2>Moisture Absorption</h2><p>Engineers are typically concerned with the possibility of moisture absorption when working with plastic composite materials in bearing and wear applications. While it is true, some plastic materials can absorb a considerable amount of water from the surrounding environment, there are many composite materials that offer inconsequential moisture absorption rates as little as .01%.</p><p>There are certainly many other factors to consider when working with bearing and wear applications such as Thermal Expansion, Pressure Velocity, as well as Surface/Shaft speed, but we’ll leave that for another post. If you are looking to improve the performance of your equipment with plastic composite materials or simply have questions about replacing your metal bearing and wear components, give us a call at InsulFab Plastics to discuss your application.</p>