For traditional bushing materials like bronze, lubrication is simply a requirement of the material. Lubrication requirements mean not only more maintenance but more muck. While precise needs will vary by application, it’s important to understand that we’re not talking about “little drops” of grease. In this post, we wanted to provide a concrete example of just how much grease a bronze bushing can require when employed in a high-performance application.
How much grease do bronze bushings need?
Unlike self-lubricating polymer options, bronze bushings require abundant amounts of lubricating grease to keep industrial equipment running. But have you ever wondered just how much grease they need? We did, so we asked a client to show us the sludge that was left behind after a routine cleaning. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, today we want to share this incredible image. Even our experienced engineers were amazed at the amount of greasy sludge that was removed!
An entire barrel (nearly 42 gallons/159 liters) of grease. Nearly 400 pounds worth!
That’s the amount of excess lubricant our partner removed from just one machine during routine maintenance of their bronze bushings. In this case, our client had two full-time workers assigned to degreasing their manufacturing and packaging lines. Because bearings that are left with excess grease are prone to seizure which can lead to a halt in production.
Do bronze bushings need grease? Always?
Bronze bearings need some sort of lubricant to reduce friction in virtually every application. While oil is sometimes used, most applications call for grease. Either way, this substance not only requires regular maintenance and cleaning but can be a magnet for contaminants like dust and particulate matter, negatively affecting machine lifespan. While some bronze bearings are impregnated with oil to generate some “self-lubricating” properties, these designs don’t change the need for cleaning. With these drawbacks in mind, more and more businesses are using alternative materials.
What to use instead of bronze bearings with grease?
Advanced materials like Rulon and other polymers and composites offer a powerful alternative bronze bushings/bearings. The right material choice will depend on your application, but these materials have self-lubricating properties that prevent the need for traditional lubricants like grease (you can read about how self-lubricating bearings work here).
Once our client replaced the high-maintenance bronze with no-maintenance plastic bearings, they realized immediate production gains. They were able to reassign the maintenance crew to other areas of the line, and experienced far fewer work stoppages. Ultimately, our partner estimates they will recover over 2,000 hours a year in lost labor. And their plant will provide a greener footprint.
Is it any surprise that they decided to say goodbye to bronze bushings forever and switch to greaseless plastic composites? Want to learn how you can end bearing lubrication? And save a barrel in maintenance costs? Ask the plastic composite bearing experts ― we can help!
To learn more about the different kinds of bearings, bearing failure, and more check out our Bearings 101 feature article.