Matthew Aldridge talks motion plastics
In this week’s video, Matthew Aldridge, managing director of igus, introduces motion plastics. Motion plastics are engineering plastics developed specifically for moving applications – in particular, bearings and cable management systems.
Consider bearings: traditionally made from metal to be hardwearing, they require regular lubrication. But grease can draw in dust and dirt, causing a significant impact on the bearing’s life. Too little lubricant can result in water being drawn in and, depending on the material, lead to corrosion. Ultimately without regular maintenance, the bearing will seize or fail catastrophically.
Plastic bearings from igus are made of tribologically-optimised plastics that integrate the lubricant within its structure to be slowly released throughout its working life. These engineering plastics are therefore self-lubricating, meaning they require no maintenance. They are insensitive to dust and dirt and, depending on the material selected, are resistant to high temperatures, chemicals and moisture – some materials are even FDA-approved for use in the food and packaging industry. Not only are they lighter than their metal counterparts, but through intensive testing at their dry-tech test lab, igus can accurately predict the service life for any given application.
Energy chains are used to manage cables or hoses anywhere there is motion between the energy source and point of consumption - the umbilical cord of any working machine or robot. Again, they have traditionally been made from metal, often enduring harsh operating environments and requiring regular maintenance. As with bearings, plastic energy chains offer machine builders and system integrators valuable benefits.
Although plastic energy chains are much lighter, they are just as strong and robust as their metal counterparts. Being lighter also reduces the amount of energy consumed for moving the chain itself. For long travel lengths, such as on cranes and gantries, this can be a decisive factor in switching from metal to plastic. Plastic energy chains are also smoother, quieter and tougher, and of course they require no maintenance.
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