How Do Manufacturers Achieve Self-lubrication in Sintered Bearings?

July 24, 2023

Sintered bearings, also known as powdered metal bearings, are made by compacting and sintering metal powders to create a porous structure.

Now, to ensure their performance and longevity will be optimised, they should undergo self-lubrication. Self-lubricating capabilities, after all, make sure the bearings will maintain a consistent and reliable lubricating film despite being utilised in challenging operating conditions. To achieve these capabilities, manufacturers process sintered bearings to effectively alter their general composition and make them more useful to many industries.

Methods to Achieve Self-Lubrication

Numerous methods can help achieve self-lubrication in sintered bearings. Some of these methods are the following.

• Oil Impregnation: Oil impregnation is one of the methods that can help achieve self-lubrication in sintered bearings. During the manufacturing process of sintered bearings, they are impregnated with oil or lubricant. These elements fill the interconnected pores of the bearing material, generating a reservoir of lubricant. As the bearing rotates, the lubricant is released gradually to form a thin lubricating film on the bearing surface.

• Incorporate Solid Lubricants: Another way to achieve self-lubrication in sintered bearings is to incorporate solid lubricants into the bearing components. Solid lubricants like graphite, molybdenum disulphide, or polytetrafluoroethylene have excellent lubricating properties and can offer long-lasting lubrication even under high loads and temperatures. They are typically mixed with metal powder during manufacturing. Once the bearing wear, the lubricant particles are exposed to provide continuous lubrication.

• Pore Filling: Pore filling techniques can likewise be maximised to achieve self-lubrication in sintered bearings. They involve filling the pores of the sintered bearings with a solid lubricant or a lubricant-containing matrix through impregnation, infiltration, or coating. The lubricant-filled pores provide a continuous supply of lubrication, enhancing the self-lubricating properties of the bearing. The technique for pore filling depends on the specific application and operating conditions of the bearings.

Achieving Effective Self-Lubrication

To achieve effective self-lubrication in sintered bearings, one should carefully consider tons of elements. These elements include the operating conditions like the load, speed, temperature, and environment. The selection of the appropriate bearing material, lubricant type, and manufacturing process must also align with the specific requirements of the application to achieve the desired self-lubricating performance without any compromises.

Sintered bearings may be often made from bronze, iron, or stainless steel. They are often selected based on specific application requirements like load capacity, wear resistance, and operating conditions. Upon knowing the base material of the sintered bearings, manufacturers have to choose the right type of lubricant to be integrated with the said components. Some common lubricants that can be used by manufacturers are graphite, molybdenum disulphide, and polytetrafluoroethylene. They are known to provide low friction and reduce wear.

The lubricant elements must then be blended with the metal powders during the mixing stage, making sure they are uniformly distributed within the metal matrix. And as the powder metallurgy process continues, the mixture of metal powders and lubricant must be compacted under high pressure and sintered or heated in a controlled atmosphere. In some cases, manufacturers can utilise infiltration techniques to enhance bearings’ self-lubricating properties.

Self-lubrication in sintered bearings can be achieved through various methods such as oil impregnation, solid lubricants, composite materials, porefilling techniques, and proper maintenance. They ensure the continuous supply of lubrication within the bearing, reducing friction and wear and prolonging the bearing’s lifespan.

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