As technology advances, even the most tried and true products tend to get modified and updated to keep up with the latest knowledge and industry standards. Every day, manufacturers find ways to make products smarter, more economical and more earth- friendly while keeping the durability and integrity of the product. Today’s polymer bearings are no different and, among other technological advances, are transitioning from metal to plastic materials. New technology and diversity in the chemical makeup of plastics allow more customizable options compared to metal parts in the same application. Benefits of converting heavy, noisy metal bearings to a self- lubricating plastic bushing include less maintenance, less costs, less mess and less friction.
Plastic bushings can stand up to almost any application and have a high level of resistance to minerals and chemicals. The level of resistance that plastic resin can withstand allows it to have a longer life and helps make it superior to metal in corrosive environments. The plastic parts require less maintenance and last much longer because they are durable and non-corrosive in most situations. Plastic bearings can be used in wash-down applications, salt water and harsh chemicals without compromising performance. Water can even be considered as a lubricant for plastic bearings. The same liquids and minerals would be detrimental to metal parts. Where every minute counts, less maintenance means less downtime for the end user.
Plastic can withstand high abrasive application and high friction while being considerably less costly than other materials such as metal. Plastic is also lighter, so surrounding infrastructure can be lighter. Other factors such as less scrap, secondary machining and decorating also play into the cost savings that accompany the metal to plastic conversion. Once the design team can use a specific color resin in the injection molding process and completely avoid the time and costs that is involved with painting metal. Production consistency is much greater with plastic resin than metal parts. Upon completing the production process, manufacturers notice a reduction in shipping and operating costs with plastics because of the significant drop in weight compared to the metal alternative.
Plastic, self-lubricating bushings keep the lubricant contained and less susceptible to elements such ash and dirt. When these elements do encounter the lubrication, it can cause moving parts to malfunction and therefore requires more maintenance and upkeep. Plastic parts are easier to clean and can be made with certain properties that make the material resistant to bacteria. With less mess to deal with, maintenance is also decreased while safety is increased exponentially.
Plastic bushings tend to maintain a lower consistent coefficient of friction (COF) than metal parts, which can become scratched and increase the COF. The smooth design of plastic bushings allows for lower resistance to sliding motion consistently over the lifetime of the bearing.
Making the switch from metal to plastic bushings is the solution to issues in maintenance, costs, mess and friction that you have been facing. It is certainly an upgrade you will not soon regret. You can learn more about Thomson’s plastic bearings at the link below.