Additive manufacturing now competes with machining in the creation of a certain number of industrial products. At Industrie Lyon, we met with Thorsten Beitzel, General Director of plastics specialist igus France to discuss the filament the company developed for 3D-printed 3D bearings.
Unveiled at Hannover Messe in 2014 and showcased at this year’s edition of the Industrie Lyon trade fair, igus’s 3D printing material opens new possibilities in the creation and fabrication of bearings, enabling it to compete with machining.
ABRASION AND WEAR RESISTANCE
Three years of tests in its own laboratory were needed before German-based igus came up with Iglidur a “tribo-filament” designed for 3D printers. After many years of collaboration with 3D printer producers, igus, the largest producer of injection molded polymer bearings, decided to design its own 3D printer filament using its expertise in tribological materials.
Iglidur’s innovation lies in its tribological characteristics. This new filament is made of technopolymers, a high-performance type of lubricant plastic that can compete with metals for resistance and durability. As a result, bearings made from this plastic do not need any lubricants when in motion. The filament is also specifically designed for products to be used in dynamic and repetitive movement applications. As a result, the material is suitable for bearings that can self-lubricate while moving.
“Iglide has 50 % more wear and abrasion resistance than standard ABS or PLA filaments,” said Beitzel, adding that this “tribo-filament” is the first on the market for 3D printers and can be injected by standard 3D printers that use ABS plastic.
According to Beitzel, the new printable material “offers endless possibilities. There is no limit.” Iglidur enables engineers to 3D print robust, self-lubricating bearings, as well as to create products with complex shapes “which would cost too much money if they were to be machined or mold injected.”
This new filament could therefore open the door to a new way to manufacture bearings. It would be more flexible and quicker, since the bearings can be printed directly on-site by the customer, as needed. They would offer the same robustness as bearings manufactured with standard technology.