Who likes to have greasy fingers?

Stefan Niermann | 11. March 2022

Rolling or gliding: freedom from maintenance and lubrication can be decisive / igus GmbH

You might know this from your own children. They quickly eat a few fries and then wipe the greasy fingers on the T-shirt. Nobody likes to have greasy fingers – nobody likes to have grease stains on their clothes. If you work with machine elements such as ball bearings, gears or linear guides, it is almost impossible to avoid this contamination, isn’t it?

The fact is that all movements of metal on metal must be provided with a lubricating layer. Oils or greases are used for this purpose. If these are not present or are not relubricated regularly, the system will fail.

Grease thus ensures the function of a metallic bearing, but can also be extremely troublesome in many applications. Grease on the operator’s fingers is one thing, but what about the rest of the environment. In the production and packaging of food or medicines, in highly sensitive chip production in cleanrooms or in medical technology and the paper industry, grease and oils are not regarded as an unavoidable evil but as pollution. Elaborate attempts are made to contain this.

The discrepancy between urgently needed grease and oil and a hygienic, clean environment can be solved with linear plain bearings made of high-performance plastics. Solid lubricants, which are already embedded in the plastic during processing, eliminate the need for additional external lubrication. According to some manufacturers (incl. igusĀ®), this external lubrication is expressly not desired.

Base polymers with solid lubricants, magnified 200 times, coloured / Applications for lubrication-free linear technology

If there is technically nothing against the use of a linear guide system, high requirements for precision and rigidity should be checked in advance, a lubrication-free solution is feasible and also helps to prevent unnecessary oil and grease from entering the environment. Consider:

Just one litre of used oil can render a million litres of water unusable!*
(*Source: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection)

How important is it to you to do without lubrication? What do you value? I would like to hear your arguments and counter-arguments …

Stefan Niermann – igus GmbH

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