5 Advantages of Choosing Plastic Bearings

You wouldn’t judge a potential employee by their grandparent’s track record, would you? Then why let the opinions on flimsy traditional plastics affect the choice between a metal bearing and next-generation engineered plastics?

For years, engineers have chosen steel and bronze bearings, thinking there was no other option to overcome extreme temperatures, heavy loads, and high speeds, not to mention the chemicals, dirt, weather, and other environmental hazards. The truth is, plastics can live up to these demands, often better than their metal Counterparts.

Both plastic and metal bearings have their strongpoints, and before choosing what will work best in your application, it’s important to understand the ups and downs of the options available. With sintered bronze bearings, oil is applied to the bearing, and then drawn out as it rotates on a shaft. The oil creates a thin, greasy film that separates the bearing and the shaft, preventing wear and damage. The downside to this is that slow rotation speeds, irregular use, uneven loads, and many other factors can create problems in creating this oily film, raising the coefficient of friction, or COF, and the rate of wear of the bearing and shaft.

Using some of the benefits of plastic, metal-backed PTFE-based plastic bearings have a steel backing bonded to a porous bronze sinter layer, which is overlaid with the PTFE lining. The thin lining of the bearing can be scratched off by dirt and other contaminants, causing metal on metal contact, increasing the COF and causing high wear rates and damage.

The difference in shaft damage is clear – L: traditional metal bearing, R: iglide plastic bearing

Self-lubricating plastic options, like iglide bearings from Motion Plastics specialist igus, contain solid lubricants embedded in millions of tiny chambers of the reinforced material. As soon as the bearing begins to rotate, that solid lubricant is released and transferred onto the shaft, lowering the COF. Unlike sintered bronze bearings, there is no minimum speed required to release lubrication, and plastic bearings can be used on a variety of shaft materials.

All plastics are not created equal – high-performance plastic bearings are not the same as the plastic bearings from any injection molder. iglide plastic bearings come with the unique ability to accurately predict the life of the bearing, thanks to years of extensive testing in the igus test lab. The online “iglide Expert System” is a unique database, where engineers can enter their application’s maximum load, speeds, temperatures, shaft material, and other factors, and receive complimentary information on the best possible bearing choice, as well as the expected lifetime, based on real-world testing.

A look inside the iglide test lab at igus headquarters 

iglide plastic bearings bridge the space between simple plastic bushing and high-tech, reliable machine components. They offer a number of advantages, but here’s five to keep at the top of the list:

1. No more maintenance! On your bearings, that is. Their self-lubricating properties eliminate the need for hours with a grease gun, re-lubricating every bearing individually, and without that sticky grease, iglide bearings are resistance against dirt, dust, and debris, lowering the risk of bearing seizure.

        2. Lower your costs. Featuring extremely high wear resistance, a low COF, and the ability to replace costly alternatives in a wide variety of applications, making the switch from metal to plastic can reduce costs by up to 25%.

        3. Freedom from messy grease and oil. iglide bearings self-lubricate, transferring tiny particles of solid lubricant into the shaft without increasing the attraction of dirt, dust, and other contaminants.

        4. Consistent coefficient of friction (COF). iglide bearings are designed to maintain a low COF consistently over its lifetime. Compared to metal-backed bearings, which can be scratched easily, increasing the COF, iglide plastic bearings often outlast their metal counterparts.

        5. Corrosion and Chemical Resistance. Plastic bearings can be used in wash-down applications, under salt water, and in the spray of harsh chemicals and acids without compromising their performance. Water, which can be fatal to the lubricant film of a metal bearing, can be considered an added lubricant for plastic alternatives.


To learn more about igus’ line of plastic bearings, check out this free whitepaper, Plastic Bearings Have Staying Power.

To calculate the best possible bearing for your application, we welcome you to used the iglide Product Selector tool, or request your dry-tech sample box, available  for with more than 50 free bearing samples, along with a number of selection cards.

Traveling Back South

We’ve already visited the major areas of South Korea, from beautiful coastlines in the East, to the famous mountain range in the North, and we’ve even made it up close to the dangerous North Korean border. Now, we’re across the country, in the South. On our way, we stopped in for a visit at Hanmac Electronics, one of our South Korean customers.

Traveling Back South

Hanmac molds plastic parts for appliances like refrigerators and washing machines. They rely on igus bearings for a plastic component located at the bottom of a washing machine. The plastic plate contains two rollers that rotate throughout the washing process. keeping water in circulation, and avoiding tangled clothes.

Each of the rollers is placed on a shaft embedded in two bearings. Before discovering iglide bearings, Hanmac had tested several other bearings, but all failed as they couldn’t not ensure fast, constant motions, while being water and chemical resistant. They eventually chose iglide H bearings, which are specifically produced for underwater applications. This was able to free Hanmac from further bothersome, expensive tests.

Traveling Back South.2

Mr. Yong Lee, the Chief Engineer at Hanmac, stressed the durability and chemical resistance of iglide H, as well as his support for igus! He says he is a big fan of our 24 hour or today shipping policy!


South Korea is a very modern country with a well developed infrastructure. This is not only nice for relaxing drives in our iglide car, but its good for the car, too! I felt it was time to stress the car a bit more, so I decided to take it for a little off-roading. Of course, the iglide bearings are all used to contend with dirt and dust in rough applications, so they are still in tip-top shape!

For the weekend, we’re planning on staying in Busan. Located in the South of Korea, Busan is the second largest metropolis in the country, after Seoul. Moreover, Busan is the world’s busiest cargo seaport. I’m looking forward to exploring soon!

I’ll let you know what happens!


iglide advantages

Did you know you can lower costs by using iglide bearings in solar power plants?

iglide advantages

On our way from Asan to the East  Coast, we passed a huge hybrid solar field. This field in particular created more than 40 megawatts, making it the largest in Asia.

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The company that runs this field is using iglide G300 flanged bearings in the hinges of the solar panels. The panels move with the sun, and the iglide bearings ensure the smooth motion of the panels, and will not seize up with dirt, dust, pollen, and other outdoor debris.

Operating and maintaining a solar field is very expensive. To save costs, the company decided to switch to iglide plastic bearings. All igus bearings are self-lubricating and maintenance-free, and are much lower in cost than traditional metal bearings. igus iglide bearings offer long life at low acquisition costs.

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Customers from all over the world rely on igus products, including ContentsLab LLC. The company’s solar power system can be installed either on its own, or in combination with a wind turbine to use borh renewable forms of energy in a hybrid way. iglide G300 plain bearings are used at all bearing points of the system.