Motion Control & Drives


Pushing the limits of polymers

October 2023 Motion Control & Drives

Modern day plastics have improved to the point where they are able to outperform traditional materials in a myriad of applications, and even withstand high loads and abrasive conditions. With advancements in polymer technology, the application boundaries for technical plastics have expanded significantly. With the igutex fibre composite technology, they can withstand extreme loads in heavy duty applications. Motion plastics specialist, Juan-Eric Davidtz from igus South Africa says that the latest polymers have gained widespread use in various industries. They easily replace steel or bronze in loads exceeding 100 MPa. This is where companies like igus have been at the forefront of developments in new thermoplastics, with fibre reinforcements boasting impressive strengths in real-world scenarios.

“In the real world materials face alternating, unevenly distributed and dynamic loads that impact them in multiple ways. Forces can act simultaneously in different directions or induce fatigue and stress due to frequent changes in intensity and direction. Therefore addressing high load scenarios requires a multidimensional approach. Factors beyond just material compressive strength must be considered. Shear strength, toughness and creep resistance are equally crucial attributes. As a result our researchers and engineers have turned to high performance polymers and formulations, utilising flexible injection moulding processes and harnessing fibre composite technology. With over four decades of experience in plain bearing development, we have perfected our igutex TX3 material for this kind of heavy load application. These bushings utilise extremely strong filaments woven together to absorb high loads effectively. By embedding solid lubricants for friction reduction and lubrication-free operation, igutex combines mechanical stability with high load-bearing capacity.”

He explains that fibre composite technology offers a fresh perspective, especially when traditional injection-moulded plain bearings reach their limits. Like the thermoplastic iglidur materials, igutex TX3 allows for tailored properties through recipe changes in the fibre composite technology. The material’s shape and processing method can be influenced, resulting in materials well suited for various requirements. This development not only enhances resistance to high loads but also provides a new level of performance in heavy duty applications.

While high strength fibre composites exhibit unparalleled strength values, injection moulding holds its ground as a potential cost-effective solution, particularly for large quantities. igus maintains dedicated teams of engineers to explore the capabilities of injection-moulded thermoplastics. The iglidur Q3E, a multilayer plain bearing, exemplifies this approach, combining various optimised iglidur materials to perform different tasks. With high load applications no longer confined to solid steel or bronze bearings, igus is redefining the possibilities of high performance polymers.

For more information contact Ian Hewat, igus South Africa, +27 11 312 1848, ihewat@igus.net, www.igus.co.za


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