Self-lubricating bearings are an excellent choice for a variety of applications. They outperform other types of bearings in environments that are dirty or involve higher temperatures, handle high load capacities, and require less maintenance.
There are three types of self-lubricating bearings: oil-impregnated sintered metal, self-lubricating metal-polymer, and lubrication-free solid polymer.
Here are additional list blog posts here at Advanced EMC Technologies on Polymer Bearings:
1. TYPE #1 – Oil-Impregnated Sintered Metal Bearings
Oil-impregnated sintered metal bearings provide an extremely low coefficient of friction, but require motion between the bearing and the shaft in order to draw the lubricant out of the bearing and onto the shaft. If there is no motion for an extended time, the oil can dry up. These bearings are also sensitive to debris, offer low chemical resistance, and high temperatures can break down the oil.
2. TYPE #2 – Self-lubricating Metal-Polymer Bearing
The self-lubricating metal-polymer bearings are simple in design: they consist of a metal backing with a thin polymer lining containing a solid lubricant. The lubricant is transmitted to the shaft during motion. One of the most common linings is polytetrafluoroethylene PTFE, known for its chemical resistance and extremely low coefficient of friction. These bearings have a higher load capacity than sintered metal bearings, and the solid lubricant will not dry up if the equipment is idle. It can also handle higher temperatures than sintered bearings. However, these bearings also have serious limitations: the polymer lining will eventually wear off, is sensitive to edge loads, and can also be subject to corrosion. In addition, they do not absorb vibration well and, like the sintered bearings, are sensitive to debris.
3. TYPE #3 – Lubrication-free Solid Polymer Bearings
The last type of self-lubricating bearing are the lubrication-free solid polymer bearings, which some engineers claim are the only true self-lubricating bearings. These bearings combine a thermoplastic polymer, reinforcing fibers, and solid lubricant. They can be manufactured by injection molding or machined. The fiber reinforcement increase the bearings strength and their susceptibility to edge loads. They have an extremely low coefficient of friction, are not chemically reactive, and absorb more vibration, meaning that they are not as noisy.
When it comes to self-lubricating bearings, engineers have a variety of options. Each option has its own benefits and drawbacks. However, if you are looking for minimal maintenance, extremely low friction, strength, and vibration absorption, your first choice should be a lubrication-free solid polymer bearing.
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