Sintered Bearing Components Can Help Manufacturers Give Better Output

June 8, 2018

A long line of steps exists between the material processing phase and the point where a perfectly manufactured bearing pops off the production line. Sure, performance benefits have been mentioned in past posts, and sintered bearings do provide other mentionable benefits, but now we’re casting a savvy eye over the production room. Can output hustle be added to that material benefits list?

Sidestepping Heat Treatment Woes 

Other rolling element production methods are relatively efficient, although they lack a self-lubricating feature, plus there are fabricating hitches to grapple when these entirely solid components arrive for their post-processing work. The metal parts are heated and cooled, tempered and normalized, all so that the rolling elements gain a durable material base. However, this work takes time, and the thermally active operations can introduce dimensional discrepancies. On the other hand, if sintered bearings require heat treatment, a small amount of machining will correct any heat treatment errors.

Reaping the Manufacturing Benefits 

Sintered bearings are remarkably easy to manipulate during their journey through a manufacturing line. Where a standard machined product would sit in place for valuable minutes while it was shaped to satisfy some challenging geometrical outline, sintered bearings are immediately pressed into shape when the loose, hot powder is compressed by a special manufacturing die. Think about it, this prefabricated die. If it’s properly configured and made from a tough tooling alloy, then there’s no reason it can’t last for thousands of operations. On that premise, these self-lubricated friction mitigators are mass production champions, with those complex geometrical profiles being stamped out of the system by the thousand. And every single one always departs the production line looking identical to its neighbour.

Where Did the Output Gain Originate? 

To answer that question, think about cars and other gear-loaded machines. Many of these mechanisms use detailed parts, with the components meshing instantly to provide immediate power. These mass production plants have essentially given the sintered bearing production process a “leg up,” a boost that assures rapid output tempo. Not to be chastised by a quality assurance system, the rapidly deployed parts are all durable and feature-rich, and that again is thanks to the powder metallurgy process.

There’s some evidence of a shift away from traditional post-processing heat treatment work, with sintered bearings now gaining their toughened outlines during a system-incorporated furnace-atmosphere quench stage. Minus that time-consuming post-treatment phase, the high-quality powder mix is quickly processed until it arrives at the output stage. And, because most if not all machining work is skipped, the pressed parts move forward at some speed.

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