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2 min read

Q&A Can Composites Replace Bronze Plain Bearings?

March 6, 2018

Can Composites Replace Bronze Plain Bearings?

If you’re a regular reader of Tech Talk, it will be no surprise that we’re big fans of composite plastics as a replacement for bronze bearings.

Composites offer a simple, one-piece construction and they eliminate many of the downsides of metal bearings – which we will outline below. When designing for your next application, here’s why you might want to consider a composite design instead.

No matter the operating conditions or bearing load, chances are there’s a composite replacement for traditional bronze bearings. Plastic composite bearings eliminate the regular maintenance required of bronze, yet still provide good strength and versatile movement to support construction, automotive and other heavy-duty applications.

Composites bearings are advancing manufacturing designs:

Have high-load and high-shock conditions?
Unlike rigid metals or bronze bearings, composites have inherent elastic qualities, so they can accommodate tremendous compression and shock and vibration— without deformation.
Operating in dangerous temperatures?
Unlike metals, composite bearings excel in temperatures ranging from cryogenic right on up to +600°F, depending on whether constant or intermittent operating service is required.
Working in FDA or other high-sanitation environments?
Plastic composite bearings meet a range of food and medical certifications and most are RoHS compliant, unlike metal ball bearings. Read more on bearings and certification.
Need a thick-wall or reinforced design?
Custom design options are virtually endless with composite materials, and off-the shelf options are a quick delivery away. Like metals, plastics can be fabricated to thick or thin wall construction, or reinforced with a hybrid design featuring two layers of materials to protect expensive machinery from a bearing failure. Composites are also good choices for press fit and freeze fit to ensure good mounting between parts.
What about dimensional stability and corrosion?
Metals and bronze plain bearings are susceptible to rust and corrosion after extended exposure to liquids and chemicals. Not so with composite bearings, which easily endure most solutions with little pitting or swelling.
Friction a concern in your application?
You can’t go wrong with composites, which offer coefficients as low as 0.05 in dry applications and 0.09 in lubricated environments.

What is the key takeaway? Composites are an excellent choice to replace bronze bearings by offering quality-without-compromise in heavy-duty applications. TriStar has been offering them to manufacturers for over thirty years to 70+ industries. Get the Industrial Bearings Technical Paper to learn more.

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Dave Biering

Written by Dave Biering