Reducing the weight of cars can make them more fun to drive and increase their performance while keeping fuel and material consumption low. The newest generation of spherical bearings manufactured by the German company HIRSCHMANN SPERICAL BEARINGS is making its own significant contribution to this trend: aluminum-titanium low-weight bearings which perform just as well as the normally used standard bearings, but with only half the weight.
The Development Agency for Lightweighting Baden-Wuerttemberg presented these bearings as its October ThinKing. The Leichtbau BW GmbH hands out this distinction each month to feature products and innovations in the lightweighting sector in Baden-Wuerttemberg, a federal State in the southwest of Germany.
Inside titanium, outside aluminum
The development by HIRSCHMANN consists of a high-strength outer ring made of aluminum, and inner ring made out of titanium and the unique liner which the company produces out of PTFE and stainless steel support plates. Compared with other standard bearings made out of steel, these bearings weight about 50 percent less.
In terms of its value for the money, the new product is certainly par for the course, costing about twice as much for standard slide bearings. The added value comes from the significant weight reduction that results from the sum of all of the spherical bearings in the vehicle. Racing teams have long realized the advantage of weight reduction, and HIRSCHMANN lightweight bearings were used in the Porsche 919 hybrid car which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race.
Aluminum-titanium bearings benefit many lightweighting sectors
Titanium has similar properties to ceramics when it comes to weight reduction. The metal is however much more attractive to customers in a direct comparison due to its lower price. On the other hand, titanium is difficult to process and cold reforming can be a challenge. This is why HIRSCHMANN has opted to use a combination of different materials in its lightweight bearings and uses aluminum for the outer ring. The aluminum outer ring reduces weight by about two thirds, and the titanium inner ring cuts weight down by about a third compared to steel.
The engineers at HIRSCHMANN have designed the aluminum-titanium bearings to handle static and dynamic transfers of forces from several directions. The product is built to withstand high alternating loads and impact forces both radially and along the axial axis.
The aluminum-titanium bearings can be used in several areas in which lightweighting and weight reduction is a necessity. In addition to the automotive sector, the aerospace industry, model construction and the healthcare technology sector offer huge areas of potential. Modern airplanes which require a significant number of spherical bearings can benefit from the lightweight aluminum-titanium bearings which reduce weight leading to a significant fuel cost reduction.