Plastic Bearings: Why Aren't You Using Them?

To the uninitiated, the idea of using plastic bearings over metal ones may seem counterintuitive. After all, they're plastic. And plastic simply doesn't seem like it can handle harsh environments and industrial applications. The truth is that plastic bearings can and do deliver. If you were unaware, here's a look at what plastic bearings can do for you.

Is It Really Just Plastic?

Yes, plastic. Although simply calling them plastic is something of a mistake. Plastic bearings can consist of various types of polymers and composite materials. Although, in the end, "plastic" does more or less sum up what these bearings really are. But here's what that plastic can do.

Consistent Coefficient of Friction

Do you know what COF is? Basically, it's just a value that says how much friction two objects create when one is stationary and the other is moving. For bearings, this translates to wear and tear. As a metal bearing becomes damaged, loses lubrication, or wears away, there's more friction.

More friction means less performance and eventually failure. Plastic bearings offer a consistent coefficient of friction, which means that over the life of the bearing, it won't raise or lessen the amount of friction. This is one reason a plastic bearing will last longer.

Resistance to Corruption
Metal bearings will rust. Both water and salt water are a danger to them. They will oxidize, corrode, rust, and ultimately fail. By comparison, plastic bearings resist all of these forms of corruption. Chiefly because they're plastic. They're also resistant to the silent killers, dust and dirt, which can build up and ultimately damage bearings and bushings.

Ease of Replacement

No matter what application you apply your bearings to, there are plastic alternatives of the same exact dimensions. You can very easily switch from metal to plastic bearings without making any changes to your equipment.

There are many other advantages, such as high heat resistance, lower price, and shock absorption. These benefits illustrate just how much plastic bearings outperform their metal counterparts. Even outside of any industrial uses you have, consider that you can replace all the bearings and bushings in your own vehicle with far superior plastic counterparts.

Do Your Research before Committing

While it's easy to go on and on about the superiority of plastic bearings, there are a few important caveats. These bearings are not all the same. Different manufacturers use different polymers and composites to achieve different effects.

When dealing with a bearings manufacturer, always check to see what industry they have a history dealing with. That should help you start the process of figuring which plastic bearings will work best for your particular application. Talk to a professional like Commercial Hardware / Nevada Casters & Material Handling for more information.