Who likes to have greasy hands?

By Stefan Niermann

If you have kids, you might be familiar with this scenario: Your child might quickly scarf down some fries and then wipe their greasy fingers on their shirt. Annoying, right? Nobody likes to have to deal with grease stains on clothing, just as nobody likes to have greasy hands. If you work with machine elements such as ball bearings, gears or linear guides, it is almost impossible to avoid this contamination… or is it?

The fact is that all metal-on-metal motion must have a lubricating layer in between surfaces. Oils or greases are used for this purpose. If these lubricants are not present or have dissipated due to lack of relubrication, the system will fail.

Grease therefore ensures the functioning of metallic bearings but can also be extremely troublesome in many applications. Grease on the operator’s hands is one thing but what about the rest of the environment? In the production and packaging of food or medicines, in highly sensitive chip production in cleanrooms or in medical technology and the paper industry, greases and oils are not seen as a necessary evils but as contaminants. In these settings, elaborate attempts are undertaken to prevent contamination.

An alternative that achieves a clean and hygienic environment is linear plain bearings made of high-performance plastics. Solid lubricants are already embedded in the plastic during processing and they eliminate the need for additional external lubrication. For some manufacturers of these plastics-based linear systems, external lubrication is not even recommended. (igus® is one of these manufacturers).

Base polymers with solid lubricants, magnified 200 times, coloured / Applications for lubrication-free linear technology

Lubrication-free linear systems should be feasible for most environments but precision, rigidity and other requirements need to be considered as well.
How important is it to you to do without greasy hands and maintenance? What are you hoping for for your application? Get in touch with us via contact form, livechat or phone at 1-800-965-2496. We can help you determine whether these innovative linear systems would be appropriate for your designs.

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