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Maximizing Shaft and Bearing Lifetimes in Agricultural Machinery

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Learn more at www.igus.com/iglide Maximizing shaft and bearing lifetimes in agricultural machinery Utilizing shaft surface treatment to reduce corrosion and wear by Nick Van Tol Agriculture Industry Manager for iglide ® plastic bearings, igus ® Inc. The Problem One of the most common causes of downtime and failure of agricultural machinery consists of wear on the machinery's bearings and shafts. Costs incurred by this wear can be high, especially once maintenance and repair costs are factored into lost operation time. According to a 2013 study conducted by the North Rhine-Westphalia Chapter of Agriculture, farmers must take into account the annual cost of repairs, which typically amounts to 2-5% of the purchase price of the machine. In an industry that is constantly evolving technologically, with ever-increasing costs of investments, this creates a huge cost burden for farmers. In order to help trim this massive cost of machine maintenance and repair, machine elements that require no maintenance or lubrication can create large savings, both financially and in terms of downtime. To optimize wear and friction values, shaft and bearing materials that work together harmoniously are crucial. The interdependence of material pairs constitutes a major challenge for bearing and shaft manufacturers. In terms of shafting, there are various methods of optimizing the shaft material's surface to maximize performance. Shafts that are too soft tend to wear easily, and can lead to material breakages at high loads. A very rough shaft surface can rapidly wear down the bearing's surface, and too smooth of a shaft runs the risk of binding or exhibiting the "stick slip phenomenon," noticeable by a distinctive squeaking. Adhesion increases the coefficient of friction, and therefore, the wear rate of the bearing, though abraded surfaces with a certain roughness offer an effective antidote against this effect.

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