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Key points

  • Plastic bearings are resistant to dirt, dust and chemicals
  • Unlike their metal counterparts, they are self-lubricating
  • Size-for-size polymer bearings have a high load-carrying capacity
  • The Igus UK manus awards promote original ways of using the devices

For many bearings, periodic maintenance to prevent premature failure is paramount. This is especially true for bearings used in high-cycle operations where periodic lubrication and cleaning, as well as the occasional adjustment, are needed to minimise the effects of wear.

Over and over again the main reasons cited as the causes of bearing failure are lubrication issues. Whether it is because of improper maintenance or contamination of the lubrication system, bearing failure often leads to significant periods of machine downtime resulting in losses in production.

Plastic bearings have been around for some time now and in many applications they can be used to eradicate these issues; they are resistant to dirt, dust and chemicals, are self-lubricating and can endure high temperatures, heavy loads and high speeds. The only problem is that some engineers hesitate to use plastic bearings because of the extensive know-how and experience they have with the more conventional materials.

The winners of this year’s Igus UK manus awards which promote new and original ways of using plastic bearings were two design applications that proved the merits of these bearings in innovative vehicle transportation devices, developed and manufactured in Britain.

The award for Most Eye-Catching Design went to the Tyligo Premium, a multipurpose folding trailer designed to allow valuable items of equipment such as motorcycles, quad bikes, kayaks and jet skis to be safely and securely towed behind a car or other vehicle. In addition to its versatility, strength and reliability the Tyligo Premium has the benefit of folding to just 700mm wide when not in use, which means that it can pass through a standard-width house door and is easy to store.

Some engineers are reluctant to use polymer bearings due to experience with conventional materials

Matthieu Philippault, the inventor of the Tyligo Premium, spent three years developing and refining the design of the trailer. During that time he encountered many engineering challenges, not least of which was finding the right bearing to use for the critical function of folding and opening the trailer by sliding the front bracket on the main stainless steel beam.

Key requirements were that the bearing should combine high load-bearing capacity with long life, small size and minimal maintenance requirements. It was also necessary that it should operate over a wide temperature range, in wet and dry conditions and that it should be impervious to the effects of salt, grit and other contaminants that would be thrown up from the road surface when the trailer was in use. It was decided that the Iglidur sleeve bearing from Igus would best meet these requirements. It has the ability to carry a much greater load for the same physical size thanks to the material’s high compressive strength and elasticity properties. Iglidur bearings are also cost effective and require no lubrication or other maintenance.

The Iglidur bearing is easy to handle and fit during the manufacture of the trailer, and is fully living up to expectations for reliability and performance in service. Tyligo will be ready for retail at the end of this year and will be officially launched at the MCN Motorcycle Show in 2012.

The second manus award was presented to Trailerteq, a fast-growing British engineering company that specialises in the development of roadside towing equipment. The manus Plastic Bearing Innovation award recognises Trailerteq’s use of a polymer bearing to provide a dependable and cost-effective solution to a challenging engineering problem.

Trailerteq’s compact Rapid Deployment Transporter (RDT) fits into the back of an ordinary van, but can be deployed in minutes to form a robust and reliable towing trailer for transporting vehicles ranging from motorbikes and cars to small vans. It is, therefore, a very popular choice for garages and other organisations involved with vehicle recovery, such as the RAC.

The bearing type may seem almost insignificant, but it is the component that can determine whether a product succeeds or fails

However during the development of the RDT, Trailerteq discovered that the support bearing for the main arm that links the body of the RDT with the towing vehicle was prone to premature failure. Finite-element analysis confirmed that the phosphor bronze sleeve bearing that was being used could not carry the required load, but space constraints meant that it was impossible to use a larger bearing.

In searching for a solution, Trailerteq’s design engineers discovered the Igus range of Iglidur polymer bearings. These have extremely high compressive strength coupled with high elasticity, which means that size-for-size they have a much higher load-carrying capacity than conventional metal bearings. In addition, these bearings require no lubrication or other maintenance and they are highly resistant to the effects of dirt ingress or other contamination something that is important for this application, where the bearings are exposed to salt and grit from the road.

Calculations showed that not only could an Iglidur bearing reliably handle the required loads, it was also possible to use a bearing that was physically smaller than the phosphor bronze type originally proposed. This meant that additional material would remain in high-stress areas of the RDT structure, making the transporter even more robust and tolerant of tough operating conditions. Practical experience with production units has confirmed these expectations and no failures have been experienced with the Iglidur bearings.

The RDT is an excellent example of how the use of a polymer bearing can transform the performance of a product, while helping to reduce costs. It’s also a good example of a problem that would be very difficult, if not impossible to solve using conventional metal bearing technology. As is so often the case, the bearing type at first seems an almost insignificant part of the design but ultimately it is the critical component that determines whether the product succeeds or fails.

Plastic bearings get innovative for vehicle transportation

Key points

  • Plastic bearings are resistant to dirt, dust and chemicals
  • Unlike their metal counterparts, they are self-lubricating
  • Size-for-size polymer bearings have a high load-carrying capacity
  • The Igus UK manus awards promote original ways of using the devices

For many bearings, periodic maintenance to prevent premature failure is paramount. This is especially true for bearings used in high-cycle operations where periodic lubrication and cleaning, as well as the occasional adjustment, are needed to minimise the effects of wear.

Over and over again the main reasons cited as the causes of bearing failure are lubrication issues. Whether it is because of improper maintenance or contamination of the lubrication system, bearing failure often leads to significant periods of machine downtime resulting in losses in production.

Plastic bearings have been around for some time now and in many applications they can be used to eradicate these issues; they are resistant to dirt, dust and chemicals, are self-lubricating and can endure high temperatures, heavy loads and high speeds. The only problem is that some engineers hesitate to use plastic bearings because of the extensive know-how and experience they have with the more conventional materials.

The winners of this year’s Igus UK manus awards which promote new and original ways of using plastic bearings were two design applications that proved the merits of these bearings in innovative vehicle transportation devices, developed and manufactured in Britain.

The award for Most Eye-Catching Design went to the Tyligo Premium, a multipurpose folding trailer designed to allow valuable items of equipment such as motorcycles, quad bikes, kayaks and jet skis to be safely and securely towed behind a car or other vehicle. In addition to its versatility, strength and reliability the Tyligo Premium has the benefit of folding to just 700mm wide when not in use, which means that it can pass through a standard-width house door and is easy to store.

Some engineers are reluctant to use polymer bearings due to experience with conventional materials

Matthieu Philippault, the inventor of the Tyligo Premium, spent three years developing and refining the design of the trailer. During that time he encountered many engineering challenges, not least of which was finding the right bearing to use for the critical function of folding and opening the trailer by sliding the front bracket on the main stainless steel beam.

Key requirements were that the bearing should combine high load-bearing capacity with long life, small size and minimal maintenance requirements. It was also necessary that it should operate over a wide temperature range, in wet and dry conditions and that it should be impervious to the effects of salt, grit and other contaminants that would be thrown up from the road surface when the trailer was in use. It was decided that the Iglidur sleeve bearing from Igus would best meet these requirements. It has the ability to carry a much greater load for the same physical size thanks to the material’s high compressive strength and elasticity properties. Iglidur bearings are also cost effective and require no lubrication or other maintenance.

The Iglidur bearing is easy to handle and fit during the manufacture of the trailer, and is fully living up to expectations for reliability and performance in service. Tyligo will be ready for retail at the end of this year and will be officially launched at the MCN Motorcycle Show in 2012.

The second manus award was presented to Trailerteq, a fast-growing British engineering company that specialises in the development of roadside towing equipment. The manus Plastic Bearing Innovation award recognises Trailerteq’s use of a polymer bearing to provide a dependable and cost-effective solution to a challenging engineering problem.

Trailerteq’s compact Rapid Deployment Transporter (RDT) fits into the back of an ordinary van, but can be deployed in minutes to form a robust and reliable towing trailer for transporting vehicles ranging from motorbikes and cars to small vans. It is, therefore, a very popular choice for garages and other organisations involved with vehicle recovery, such as the RAC.

The bearing type may seem almost insignificant, but it is the component that can determine whether a product succeeds or fails

However during the development of the RDT, Trailerteq discovered that the support bearing for the main arm that links the body of the RDT with the towing vehicle was prone to premature failure. Finite-element analysis confirmed that the phosphor bronze sleeve bearing that was being used could not carry the required load, but space constraints meant that it was impossible to use a larger bearing.

In searching for a solution, Trailerteq’s design engineers discovered the Igus range of Iglidur polymer bearings. These have extremely high compressive strength coupled with high elasticity, which means that size-for-size they have a much higher load-carrying capacity than conventional metal bearings. In addition, these bearings require no lubrication or other maintenance and they are highly resistant to the effects of dirt ingress or other contamination something that is important for this application, where the bearings are exposed to salt and grit from the road.

Calculations showed that not only could an Iglidur bearing reliably handle the required loads, it was also possible to use a bearing that was physically smaller than the phosphor bronze type originally proposed. This meant that additional material would remain in high-stress areas of the RDT structure, making the transporter even more robust and tolerant of tough operating conditions. Practical experience with production units has confirmed these expectations and no failures have been experienced with the Iglidur bearings.

The RDT is an excellent example of how the use of a polymer bearing can transform the performance of a product, while helping to reduce costs. It’s also a good example of a problem that would be very difficult, if not impossible to solve using conventional metal bearing technology. As is so often the case, the bearing type at first seems an almost insignificant part of the design but ultimately it is the critical component that determines whether the product succeeds or fails.

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