While bearings are most commonly made of metal, there are other materials that offer some distinct advantages depending on the needs of an application. Plastic bearings are versatile components that can come in several different forms, including deep groove, thrust, angular contact, and miniature bearings. Manufactured in a range of styles, the use of plastic offers certain benefits.
One advantage is that plastic is much lighter than the typical metals used to make bearings. The weight difference not only impacts the overall weight of an application, it also can lead to energy savings over time since an application won’t require as much power to run properly. Plastic bearings also offer more corrosion resistance than the metal, which is suitable for environments with corrosive substances or industries that demand cleanroom conditions. Also, plastic bearings can run effectively without lubricants because of plastic’s superior abrasion resistance. The combination of no lubrication and elemental resistances also means that plastic bearings can require less maintenance than metal options. This can be very helpful for applications that are either difficult to maintain or likely won’t receive maintenance over its lifetime.
Another advantage of plastic’s abrasion resistance is that is can help applications run more quietly than other materials. Metal can potentially create a grinding noise, so plastic is advantageous for applications that shouldn’t make noise. Finally, plastic bearings don’t conduct electricity and are not magnetic. This is extremely important for any market where the bearings will be near sensitive electronic components. In all, these advantages make plastic bearings a natural match for a variety of markets, such as food processing, medical, semiconductor manufacturing, packaging, and robotics.