Plain bearing damage: causes, symptoms, and preventive measures - igus Blog

Plain bearing damage: causes, symptoms, and preventive measures

Lars Butenschön | 13. April 2023

Plain bearings are an important part of machines and systems because they allow low-friction movement between two components, reducing wear. Unfortunately, plain bearings can also suffer damage that can lead to machine failures. This blog post explains how plain bearings are damaged and how you can systematically analyse and avoid that damage.

How are plain bearings damaged?

Plain bearing damage has a variety of causes. A common one is wear due to plain bearing movement. This can lead to abrasion in the plain bearing material. Another is corrosion due to moisture ingress in the bearing. Overloading, insufficient lubrication, and material fatigue can also cause plain bearing damage.

Inspect the damage

The first step in analysing plain bearing damage is inspection. You should carefully examine the damage to determine its type. Plain bearings can be damaged by wear, material fatigue, overload, and corrosion. The type of damage provides important clues as to what its cause could be.

Analysis of conditions of use

After inspecting the damage, you should analyse the plain bearing’s operating conditions. This includes checking lubrication conditions, load, speed, and temperature. Overloading the plain bearing can damage it. Inadequate lubrication increases friction and accelerates wear. Excessively high temperatures can also weaken the material.

Analyse the lubricant

Lubricant plays an important role in plain bearing performance. Lubricant analysis can provide information about whether the lubricant did what it was supposed to or whether there were problems. It is important to check the lubricant for contaminants and wear particles, since they can affect the lubricant and damage the plain bearings.

Analyse the material

Material analysis is an important step in assessing plain bearing damage. The plain bearing material is analysed to determine whether it meets requirements or whether there was material fatigue or failure. Material analysis can use non-destructive testing methods such as X-ray or ultrasonic testing.

Assess the results

After damage analysis is completed, the results should be evaluated to determine the cause of the damage. It is important to know the cause of damage in order to take suitable measures to avoid future damage. When the cause of damage has been found, steps can be taken to prevent similar damage.

Preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance is essential for avoiding plain bearing damage. The plain bearings are serviced and inspected at regular intervals so that problems are identified and eliminated at an early stage. Regular maintenance can help plain bearings last longer and be less prone to damage.

Use suitable materials

The use of suitable materials is another important factor in preventing plain bearing damage. It is important to choose materials that meet application requirements. Choosing the wrong material can lead to material fatigue and damage.

Check conditions of use

It is also important to check operating conditions in order to avoid damage to the plain bearings. The loads, speeds, temperatures, and lubrication conditions should be checked at regular intervals to ensure that the plain bearing is operating under the proper conditions.


Plain bearing damage can lead to machine and plant failures, which can be costly. To avoid such damage, it is important to analyse the bearings systematically and take preventive measures. Preventive maintenance, suitable materials, and operating condition checks can help to avoid damage. A systematic analysis can contribute to determination of cause so that suitable measures can be taken to prevent future damage.

We would be happy to support your damage analysis

Do you need help analysing damaged plain bearings? Our experienced application engineers will work with you on site or remotely to investigate the case at hand and help you find the right product for your application.

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