Why lubrication-free is a better option for your ball bearing

Patrick Czaja | 15. June 2020

A simple question that is asked from time to time: is it really necessary to lubricate ball bearings? The answer is just as simple. Metal ball bearing: yes! xiros polymer ball bearing from igus: no!

Grease or lubricating oil is essential for installing metal ball bearings. With xiros polymer ball bearings you can enjoy 100% lubrication-free ball bearings made of plastic. No grease No oil No residues on hands or machines! In most applications where ball bearings are used, mostly low loads and low speeds are required. Plastic ball bearings can be used in multi-functional applications, for example, in cases where they come into contact with liquid media, water or chemicals. Metallic ball bearings are only partially or not at all suitable for this purpose. Furthermore, the aspect of temperature resistance must not be ignored. xiros polymer ball bearings are often a better alternative to metal and even ceramic ball bearings in applications with elevated temperatures of up to 150°C.

Ceramics and polymers

Compared to metal, xiros polymer ball bearings offer considerable advantages with regard to smooth operation. The main reason for this is that they do not have to overcome the resistance of the lubricant, as they start up with a much lower breakaway torque. Furthermore, they are very light and also available with glass beads, so that they are completely metal-free and non-magnetic if required.

In addition, igus has a wide range of cage, raceway and ball materials, making these small bearings versatile and suitable for a large number of industrial applications. In addition, they are very cost effective compared to their counterparts made of alternative materials.

Another alternative is lubrication-free ball bearing made of technical ceramics. Ceramic materials are generally very wear-resistant, corrosion-free, temperature-resistant, light, stiff and electrically insulating. Despite the significantly higher costs compared to metallic materials, technical ceramics such as silicon nitride, silicon carbide and aluminium oxide established themselves a long time ago. In many cases, for cost reasons, they have only been used in application areas in which the advantages of ceramics are really important and buyers are not deterred by the higher procurement costs.

As mentioned above, metallic ball bearings are dependent on lubricants. Without lubrication these bearings would rust quickly and deform during use. This is due to the high frictional forces and the lack of cooling, which in the worst case leads to seizure of the bearing. Lubrication is essential, especially for sealed ball bearings, as otherwise the plastic or rubber seals become porous. The grease will leak out and the bearings will operate dry. An exception are stainless steel ball bearings, which do not corrode, but are much more expensive to buy than plastic ball bearings.

Without ball bearings the world would not spin properly!

Sometimes we do not see how complicated it is, how things are constructed, how life grows and develops. Everything is in motion, it never stops moving. If we took the time to appreciate the technology behind it all, we would realise how much the ball bearing is underrated. If we all slowed down and explored our surroundings, we would notice on the way to work by bike, train, bus or car that there are ball bearings in all means of transport. But you do not have to go far to discover ball bearings. Take a look at kitchen and fitness equipment or shower walls – ball bearings are everywhere!

Since the development of the steam engine and the beginning of industrialisation, ball bearings have become indispensable in our everyday lives. The only difference is that the possibilities we have today are much greater than ever before.

Now you have the choice: metal and grease or our lubrication-free xiros polymer ball bearings.

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