During my recent travels, I revisited a customer who, just a few years before, was set against using plastic bearings. He knew he could save a lot of money by making the switch, but couldn’t be convinced that plastic—a material that most people equate with a disposable commodity like a plastic fork or spoon—would actually work. Instead of walking away defeated, I offered to test our bearings on his product in our test lab, at no cost to him. A win-win situation: the customer would either be right about predicting the plastic bearings would fail or if they did work, he’d save a lot of money out of the deal.
I assured him he’d be singing the praises of plastic bearings by the end of the testing cycle, but needless to say he was a non-believer and thought I was drinking the igus® Kool-Aid. However, we delivered: the customer’s motor actually broke before our plastic bearings incurred any wear. And to the customer’s delight, he didn’t tie up any resources to make this discovery.
This encounter got me thinking about how many of our customers start out with an anti-plastic outlook. More often than not, we’ve been conditioned to associate plastics with cheap. The brain conjures up images of throwaway items, such as plastic bags, cups or toys, or if you’re a design engineer, perhaps images of mass-produced bearings by your local, run-of-the-mill injection molder. However, there is an enormous difference between bearings from most injection molders and the types of plastic bearings developed by igus®. igus®’ triboplastics are tribologically optimized material compounds and the basis of all our products and systems.
Using a layer of lubricant to reduce surface contact during tribological interaction (whenever one material slides over another) typically minimizes wear. In contrast, igus’ plastics inherently contain solid lubricant as microscopic particles released in tiny amounts during movement. All igus® products, as a result, don’t require any lubrication, which virtually eliminates maintenance.
More than 100 plastic compounds have been developed by igus® and each is comprised of three parts: