Plastic Coupling Rods: Advantages for the Automotive Industry

Coupling rods, also referred to as double spherical plain bearings or double joint bearings, are commonly produced for automotive applications in the form of struts or rods that have the possibility of being connected on either end via ball joints, screw threads or sleeves. Traditionally, coupling rods are manufactured from steel or aluminum; however, coupling rods made from high-strength plastic materials have been in mass production for years. The question is: What are the benefits behind using coupling rods made from plastic materials?

Plastic Coupling Rods: A Serious Alternative to Metal?

High-strength plastic coupling rods are much more than just a simple alternative since they offer a wide range of advantages over traditional metal coupling rods. However, the primary differentiating factor lies within the plastic materials themselves. When dealing with certain application demands, such as large loads and fast movements, tribologically-optimized and reinforced plastic parts should be used so that any risk of early system failure is avoided.

When To Use Plastic Coupling Rods For Automotive

Plastic coupling rods, like igubal® coupling rods, can offer benefits for a wide variety of applications within the automotive industry—from sensor connections, actuators, and valve flaps all the way to shifting gears and turbochargers. Almost any application that uses metal coupling rods can be improved by using plastic coupling rods.

For example: coupling rods that are made from high-performance plastic iglidur® T500 are widely used within turbochargers, which is a constantly driving component with extremely high-temperatures. This material is able to handle a consistent application temperature of up to 250° C. Additionally, these high-strength plastic materials are corrosion-resistant and provide additional cost savings thanks to their self-lubricating properties. Depending upon your application, there may also be a chance to reduce the overall amount of components by using one-piece plastic solutions, leading to shorter assembly times.

If you are wondering whether or not plastic coupling rods can offer advantages for your undercarriage, or other areas that will be exposed to dirt and dust, we are proud to introduce the new igubal® RN283 coupling rods. These plastic coupling rods offer an improved sealing function against the ball studs, in addition to the metal being further enclosed by an increased undercut so that dirt and dust particles are unable to penetrate the bearing.

Now that we’ve briefly discussed when to use plastic coupling rods, let’s get to the good stuff—the advantages.

What are the advantages of plastic coupling rods?

Various types of loads impact coupling rods when an application is running and due to permanent vibrations, edge loads and tensile and compressive forces, the material requirements are extremely high. Igubal® spherical bearings are able to meet any requirement, while still offering incredible advantages over traditional metal:

Corrosion-Resistance: In contrast to metal, plastic coupling rods will not corrode even when submersed in water or other harsh areas, which can be very beneficial for undercarriages.

Self-Lubricating: Coupling rods from igus® do not require any external lubrication, making them completely maintenance-free throughout the duration of their service life.

Cost-Effectiveigubal® coupling rods can be up to 40% cheaper than their metal counterparts, and thanks to their special design, assembly time is reduced, which is an important factor due to the high amount of these applications being put together at one time.

Low-Noise & Vibration Dampeningiglide® plastic materials dampen vibrations, which prevent additional noise and rattling, including NVH and BSR noise.  

Lightweight: Plastic parts are up to 80% lighter than metal components. Weight reduction is an important factor in the automotive sector since lighter engines and systems provide more efficient fuel consumption.

More Form Options & Design Flexibility: Coupling rods that are manufactured via injection molding all for an infinite number of design possibilities since almost any geometry is possible. 

Ready to See These Advantages for Yourself?

Next time you begin working on, or designing, a new automotive application, consider plastic coupling rods. With so many advantages, and so many design options, there is no automotive application that wouldn’t benefit. Also, with our 3d print service, we can quickly produce viable prototypes that can be tested in your application. There is no need to wait for an injection molded sample, or be forced to order a whole batch.

If you are interested in speaking with an expert about your automotive application and how coupling joints from igus® could improve it, please do not hesitate to our Head of Automotive here.