Prevent unplanned downtime and machine failures with “smart” plastic bearings

June 21, 2021 Richard Habering

Plain bearings often have to withstand heavy loads such as abrasive dust, high speeds or chemical loads in extreme environments. Last year, igus® developed an intelligent bearing - i.Sense - with iglide® high-performance plastics in order to recognize the wear of such plain bearings in good time. This uses condition monitoring and warns of an impending failure before it happens. In this way, machine and system operators can plan maintenance, repair and replacement in advance.

If the construction machine fails, the packaging system stops or the wind turbine no longer rotates due to a bearing failure, trouble with the machine and system operator is inevitable. This is why igus® has expanded its smart plastics product range to include the world's first intelligent plain bearing. This recognizes the wear in extremely loaded applications in advance and proactively gives the user a signal when the bearing is about to fail. In contrast to numerous alternative offers of condition monitoring, the condition of the warehouse is not “only” measured at regular time intervals, but continuously. Therefore, maintenance can be planned and, for example, won't surprise operators of agricultural machinery during the harvest season. This has enormous advantages, especially for bearings that are difficult to access and applications for which regular maintenance intervals are not planned.

iglide® i.Sense: Smart plastic plain bearings for condition monitoring

The base body of the new iglide® i.Sense plain bearing consists of two components: the internal, customer-specific, self-lubricating iglide® material and an external hard polymer shell that protects the bearing. The customer can freely choose the material that is optimally suited for their application. Included is the FDA-compliant material iglide® A180, which is specially designed for use in the food industry; the high-load bearing iglide® Q2E for use in construction machinery and agricultural technology; the all-rounder material iglide® G; the endurance runner iglide® J; and, as a specialist for pivoting and rolling applications, iglide® P210. igus® offers all intelligent i.Sense plain bearings in three dimensions, each with an inner diameter of 20, 30, and 40 millimeters.

Condition monitoring with iglidur

An intelligent sensor - i.Sense - is used between the two components to measure wear. The measured data of the i.Sense sensor can be integrated in different ways by the machine and system operator. It is possible to use a control lamp to provide information about the wear on the plain bearing, which is the core of condition monitoring. An automatic switch-off is also a possible concept of integration. For high-end applications, the data can be sent directly to a controller, which forwards and evaluates a customer-specific web interface for maintenance via the i.Sense: modul communication module . The user can plan maintenance and replacement using the device of his choice.

Have questions or need more information? Contact igus® here.  

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