The Nation’s Capital to Niagara Falls

Let’s go back a few days to review iglide on tour’s travels from Washington DC to Niagara Falls, some of the most photographed areas of the United States!

After more than 2 months on the road across North America, iglide on tour finally made it to the United State’s capital, Washington DC. DC, short for District of Columbia, is a 68 square mile area between Maryland and Virginia that serves as the capital city of the United States. The city is a perfect representation of the US’s “Melting Pot” nature; the city is home to more than 170 embassies and international cultural centers. Local colleges and universities host about 20,000 international students each year, and 15% of DC residents speak a language other than English at home. All that diversity surrounds countless memorials, statues, and icons that represent American history and heritage.

The Nation's Capital to Niagara Falls

While in DC, the iglide car visited the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the White House, likely the three most famous landmarks in the country. The Lincoln Memorial, seen above, is a monument dedicated to the US’ 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. Showcasing a seated Lincoln, surrounded by engravings of two well-known speeches by Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address, and his second Inaugural Address, the memorial has been the site of many famous speeches, including Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

The Washington Monument was built to commemorate George Washington, the first President of the United States of America. The monument, which is made of marble and granite and stands a massive 555 feet tall, is the world’s largest stone obelisk.

The next stop in the nation’s capital was the White House – where the President of the United States lives while in office since 1800. Many Presidents throughout the country’s history have put their own mark on the White House, including Thomas Jefferson’s expansion of the house, Theodore Roosevelt’s relocation of the offices to the famous West Wing, and the rebuilding after the British burned much of the building during the War of 1812.

The Nation's Capital to Niagara Falls.2

Heading North out of Washington DC, iglide on tour traveled to another city filled with US history, Philadelphia – home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and more modern landmarks like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Reading Terminal, and a statue of famed movie boxer Rocky Balboa.

The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of American Independence. Commissioned in 1752, the bell is inscribed with the words “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” The Bell, which was originally used to alert lawmakers of legislative sessions and to notify the public about meetings and proclamations. The bell cracked when it was rung for the first time, and despite multiple repairs, the crack remains.

Color photo showing the Liberty Bell, from the shoulder down to the lip, with a focus on the crack.

Independence Hall, where the Liberty Bell was originally housed, is the site where America’s founding fathers gathered to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the document announcing that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as thirteen newly independent sovereign states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. 11 years later, representatives from those states came together to create the US Constitution.

The Nation's Capital to Niagara Falls.4

There is more than just history in Philadelphia, however. One of the most famous American sports films, Rocky, notably took place in Philly, using the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a training area.  A statue of Rocky, a fictional boxing legend, has been added to the bottom of the iconic 72 stone steps.

On it’s way out of Philadelphia, the iglide car made a stop at another customer, this time, Pride Mobility, a leader in the design and manufacture of mobility products, including power lift chairs and mobility scooters. Pride uses iglide bearings in a variety of their mobility products like wheelchairs. Because they are extremely wear-resistant and require no maintenance, iglide plastic bearings are an excellent solution for products that need to be used long-term, day after day, like wheelchairs and other personal mobility products. In the lift and tilt mechanisms of their wheelchairs, Pride uses igus’ iglide G300 bearings, and also uses DryLin J linear bearings to help tilt the seat. In addition to being a long-lasting solution, igus plastic components are also immune against water, dirt, and other outside elements that can affect typical ball bearings. By using components that are strong against the outside elements, Pride Mobility customers can trek out into the wild without worrying about bearing failure!

From Philadelphia, the car continued on until it reached Niagara Falls, one of North America’s most beautiful landmarks, also marking iglide on tour’s 3rd passage over the Canadian border. Made up of three waterfalls on the Niagara River, The falls are split between New York (USA) and Ontario (Canada), and include the Horseshoe Falls, which is the most powerful waterfall in all of North America.

While at the falls, the iglide bearings got the chance to go by boat around and behind the falls, getting drenched in water. Unlike metal, there was no chance of rust from the waterfall!

From Niagara, it was time for iglide on tour to head East towards New England, the final stretch of the iglide tour across North America!

Look for us on the road!



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.

Seattle, WA and Portland, OR

We left Vancouver and headed back to the US for our next destination, Seattle, Washington. Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest region of North America and the fastest-growing major city in the United States. This city is full of character with it’s vibrant city-center and is home to Pike’s Place Market, the Space Needle, fresh, locally-sourced raw oysters, and a Ferris wheel at Pier 57.

Pike’s Place Market is an open market with everything from seafood to fresh fruit to dried flowers. The market opened in 1907 and is one of the oldest continually operating public farmer’s markets in the country. Thousands of tourists swarm the market daily to purchase fresh food and goods, steps away from one of the country’s most iconic coffee shop.

The iglide® car in front of the famous wall of gum in down town Seattle

Seattle, WA and Portland, OR

Before leaving Seattle and heading off the Portland, the car was brought to the celebrated Space Needle. The Space Needle is a landmark of the Pacific Northwest and a staple of the Seattle skyline.

Seattle, WA and Portland, OR.2

There is an observation deck from which to view the whole city of Seattle. Just like the Eiffel Tower, it was built for a world’s fair in 1962. When it first opened, nearly 20,000 people a day were taking elevators to get to the top to see the entire Seattle metropolis.

We were able to visit a fitness machinery design company that integrated our bearings in their top of the line equipment. We were able to tour their test room and see the bearings used first hand. iglide® bearings can significantly reduce noise and maintenance in fitness equipment. Their low-friction, self-lubricating operation keeps operation quiet, and eliminates the mess of oil leaking onto the machines.  Smooth operation of the iglide plastics makes machines move smoothly, making customer workouts their best.  Because they do not require external lubrication, maintenance is also unnecessary.

Our bearings inside this piece of fitness equipment 

iglide L280® bearings are a great solution for exercise equipment, possessing a low coefficient of friction, and high wear resistance. It’s also ideal for use with rough shafts or in abrasive environments, so manufacturers can use less expensive shafts in their equipment as well.

Seattle, WA and Portland, OR.4 Seattle, WA and Portland, OR.5 Seattle, WA and Portland, OR.6The car set up in the parking lot for a visit

After leaving Seattle it was time to head to Portland. Portland is a very unique city, famous for their food carts which celebrate food from almost every ethnicity you could imagine. The carts line over two blocks of the city and made picking what to eat for lunch very difficult. Some of us chose coffee from one cart, a salad from another, and desert from a third just to sample the incredible and unparalleled variety of food.

Seattle, WA and Portland, OR.7Food trucks lining the streets in Portland

Next we visited Powell’s Books, a bookstore chain located in Portland. We headed to the headquarters, dubbed Powell’s City of Books, which claims to be the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. Besides boasting multiple buildings, inside the store each section has a color to indicate what genre the room is, because otherwise finding a book would be close to impossible.

Seattle, WA and Portland, OR.8The car going over the Hawthorne Bridge, the most well known of the multiple bridges in Portland

Our next stop is San Francisco where the car will get to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge.

We will keep you posted,

Sascha and Kayla

Vancouver to Seattle

As we were approaching Vancouver we drove through Fraser Canyon which is an 52 mile landform of the Fraser River that descends rapidly through narrow rock gorges in the Coast Mountains en route from the Interior Plateau of British Columbia to the Fraser Valley.

Vancouver to Seattle

This is the only region in Canada that is home to poisonous snakes. We were also lucky enough to see rams jumping into the cliffs! As we drove through the canyon the landscape quickly changed from forests to mountainous desert.

Vancouver to Seattle.2

One of the main attractions in Fraser Canyon is Hell’s Gate.

Vancouver to Seattle.3

Hells Gate is an abrupt narrowing of British Columbia’s Faser River, located immediately downstream of Boston Bar in the southern Fraser Canyon. The towering rock walls of the Fraser River plunge toward each other forcing the waters through a passage only 115 ft wide.

Vancouver to Seattle.4

The name Hells Gate was derived from the journal of explorer Simon Fraser, who in 1808 described this narrow passage as “a place where no human should venture, for surely these are the gates of Hell.” Long before the arrival of Simon Fraser, and as early as the end of the last ice age, Hells Gate was a First Nation’s congregation ground for settlement and salmon fishing.

Vancouver to Seattle.5
Once we arrived in Vancouver it was time for some site seeing. We took a bike tour along the sea wall and saw the Olympic Torch from the 2010 winter Olympics. When the flame is lit it stretches about 30 feet into the sky. It is only lit for special occasions because it uses so much fuel. There are four separate torches that surround one larger one in the middle.

Vancouver to Seattle.6

Our last stop was to an award winning Gelato shop, Bella Gelateria, owned by one guy who frequently is in the shop giving out his recipe for people to try at home. The city itself is extremely clean, not overly crowded and feels very calm compared to other cities such as New York, Los Angeles or even Boston.

Vancouver to Seattle.7

On our second day in the beautiful city of Vancouver it was time for customer visits. Jeff, the iglide® sales representative for the Vancouver region led the visits. The first stop was a local gelato shop offering over 253 flavors of Gelato including various exotic flavors such as curry, aged balsamic vinegar and garlic.

Vancouver to Seattle.8 Vancouver to Seattle.9

This gelato shop uses igus® bearings in various parts of their waffle cone makers.

Vancouver to Seattle.10

They were looking for an alternative to regular bearings because lubrication was messy and expensive for the food industry. This solution helped them perfect the waffle by not burning or under cooking it. It also saved them money by not wasting ingredients. Their waffles became so popular that they created their own business that primarily sells waffle makers because they make the perfect waffles. The owner Raffaele spoke about igus® bearings saying, “it was really the saving grace for our machines.”

Vancouver to Seattle.11

Our second visit was with a bicycle manufacturer. They use our bushings in three different locations. To the bike industry, lightweight is very important, iglide® bearings are about seven times lighter than metal bearings. igus® bearings are also stiffer making the bike more durable when being used in high intensity circumstances such as down hill mountain biking which is very popular in the north west.

Vancouver to Seattle.12

Joanne, the Research Technology Program Manager said she loves working with igus® because when they are working on a new bike and have new ideas igus® send them test products within the month and works closely with them on what bearing is best.

Vancouver to Seattle.13

Check out this video from iglide® on tour in Taiwan, to get to know how you can improve your bike by using igus® bearings:

After the two customer visits it was time to head off to Seattle.

Look for us on the road,


Kayla and Sascha

Say Goodbye to Seizing

Plastic bearings tested and proven on Cromax shafting

Bearings must be able to withstand a high amount of wear, particularly in heavy-duty, industrial applications in the construction or agricultural industries. For these types of applications, many designers are surprised to learn that plastic bearings can be an ideal alternative for metal bearings for a number of reasons.

Plastic bearings made of special, self-lubricating plastics have many advantages, including:

  • No maintenance
  • No external lubrication
  • Corrosion-resistance
  • High mechanical strength
  • Vibration dampening
  • Insensitivity to dust and dirt
  • Compensation for misalignment

Plastic bearings are also self-lubricating. This eliminates dirt and dust buildup, which can cause metal bearings to seize, leading to unforeseen downtime and extra expenses. In addition, when compared to bearings made of conventional materials, plastic bearings are often less expensive. For example, igus®’ iglide® Q2 bearings made of high-performance, self-lubricating plastic, can withstand a static load of up to 17,400 psi (120 MPa), and are especially suitable for heavy-duty slewing applications such as those found in hydraulic connections.

Shaft material put to the test

Different shafting materials are recommended for different types of plain bearings and each shaft/bearing combination will have different wear results. In some cases, wear on the shaft is more common than on the bearing itself.

The best combinations for iglide plastic bearings depend heavily on the bearing’s polymer material blend. For this reason, igus continually performs wear tests on its plastic bearings using a wide range of different shafting materials. Recently, a series of tests confirmed iglide Q2 plastic bearings have an extremely low wear rate when used in combination with hard chrome-plated shafts.

Especially good results were achieved when iglide Q2 was used in combination with hard chrome-plated Cromax shafts from steel manufacturer, Ovako. The tests were carried out with 4,350 psi (30 MPa). The bearings tested had a diameter of 20 mm and a length of 20 mm. This resulted in a force of 2,700 lbs. (12,000 N), which corresponds to 1.2 tons or the weight of a small car. The slewing angle was 60 degrees and 30 movements per minute were achieved in the test.

Lubricated brass bearings were also tested, to serve as a reference. During the testing, the metallic bearing “flowed,” i.e. became wider at the contact area to the shaft. However, this reaction did not take place in the test using iglide Q2 bearings. In fact, there was no measurable wear at all on the shafts paired with iglide Q2. Also, there was no significant difference in wear whether a hardened chrome-plated base material (Cromax 482IH) or a non-hardened chrome-plated base material (Cromax 280X) was used. This flexibility enables more efficient and low-cost bearing/bolt connections.

Dry-running, not lubricated

Another costly necessity in heavy-duty applications is lubrication. Metal bearings require regular greasing and maintenance, which results in increased costs and the need to for extra manpower. However, using self-lubricating plastic bearings eliminates the need for external lubrication. Since they are inherently lubricated, plastic bearings run completely dry, which greatly reduces costs. Plus, Cromax is corrosion-resistant thanks its hard-chrome outer layer.

Technology close-up: iglide Q2

Due to the demand, igus’ standard range of the iglide Q2 plastic bearings, which was introduced in 2011, has expanded. iglide Q2 plain and flange bearings are now available for all standard shaft diameters up to 75 mm. igus also offers inch sizes up to 2 inches. iglide Q2 is ideal for industrial applications thanks to its high mechanical strength – the bearing can withstand static loads up to 17,400 psi (120 MPa) – and is particularly suitable for heavy-duty slewing applications such as those which can be found in all hydraulic connections.

iglide Q2 is:

  • Lubrication- and maintenance-free
  • Wear-resistant and sturdy under high loads
  • Resistant to dirt and dust
  • Has an extremely reasonable price-to-performance ratio

iglide Q2 can be used in a variety of applications such as agricultural engineering, commercial vehicles, construction machinery, jig construction or in the general mechanical engineering arena.

Fig. 1
During the test using a lubricated brass bushing, the shafts show heavy signs of wear. The test had to be abandoned when the brass bearing seized at 150,000 cycles. (Source: igus Inc.)


Fig. 2
There was little to no wear during the test with iglide Q2 plastic plain bearings when used in partnership with the Cromax shafts from Ovalo. The shafts still revealed little to no wear even after 200,000 cycles. (Source: igus Inc.)

Fig. 3
The graph compares the wear from iglide Q2 plastic plain bearings and brass bushings. There was little to no wear with the plastic busing in comparison with the brass bushing.