Igus (www.igus.com), a German-based plastic bearings specialist, has unveiled the ‘green bearings’ technology with the development of a wear-resistant plain bearing comprising 54 percent natural and sustainable raw materials.
Aimed at low-load applications, the new iglidur N54 plain bearing uses polymer that is mainly made of castor oil, rather than crude oil, which is commonly used in plastic bearings.
“The introduction of our iglidur N54 biopolymer marks the first serious step towards ‘green bearings’,” said Matt Aldridge, Director of IgusUK.
He noted that the biopolymer “is made from crop oil instead of crude oil – you can’t eat it, and it’s not biodegradable – but it is an industry first for a technical polymer.”
The new plain bearing is both maintenance and lubricant free, and in-house test results showed that the new material has up to 2MPa of wear resistance properties for loads. Furthermore, the iglidur plastics weigh less than any other metallic version; with the average weight is only 1.4 g/cm3 compared to steel, which weigh by as much as 5.5 times.
As the new bearing does not require any grease and oil, it cannot discharge any contaminants into the environments. In addition, the energy needed to create plastic bearings is remarkably less compared for producing metals.
The European Bioplastics Association also noted that the global production capability for biopolymers will surge from about 700,000 tonnes last year to approximately 1.7 million tonnes by 2015.