The Principle of Self-Lubricating Bearings

November 6, 2017

There’s no great mystery behind self-lubricating bearings, no magic greasing the sintered parts. It’s all science, a form of engineering that employs lubricant transference tech. Try Picturing the principle as a transfer-driven process. At the beginning, that oily liquid is contained in the sintered bearing material. Just how does the oily stuff reach that required lubricating state when it starts off life locked inside a sintered metal shell?

Cracking the Mechanics of Transference Science 

Impregnated with a specially designed oil, the sintered materials are shaped into rolling elements and rings. The transfer process now takes place as the device becomes dynamically operational. Drawn from microscopic openings on the surface of the sintered parts, the lubricant takes the shape of a thin film. This is the break-in period, a phase of operation that smears the oil around every exposed surface. Studied on a graph, a frictional curve is developing at this critical point, but the developing film cancels that spiking heat. As that oily coating becomes properly established, a state of equilibrium is achieved, a mode of balanced activity that optimizes parts slippage.

Determining Self-Lubricating Forms 

Fluidic lubricants aren’t alone. They’re just half of this friction mitigating puzzle. Certainly, oily concoctions facilitate the transfer process. Still, what about a maintenance-free solid? Instead of a greasy film, graphite slides through the material matrix of the porous alloy, then it coats the wear area so that a low coefficient of friction is assured. Furthermore, the solid form used here creates a stronger coating, which means the rolling film will endure when a heavy load incident is encountered.

Why Bother with Engineering Principles? 

Well, if the science is ignored, there’s a good chance the application will encounter a major issue. Remember, self-lubricated bearings need a break-in period, a chance to properly form an oily membrane. If that period is ignored and the machine switches instantly into full load, there’s a chance that the drive system will seize. Similarly, fluid versus solid lubricant issues need evaluation, especially when the usage situation involves a series of transient loads. What more can we say? The practical side counts, but that real-world application can quickly cause trouble if the science is ignored.

Sintered products use different types of alloys and contrasting lubricants. Bronze is a favoured bearing material, but it’s not alone. Likewise, there are solid lubricants available, chief amongst which, we have to mention slippery graphite. In conclusion, proper operability and a long functioning lifespan require a measure of scientific acumen, so know those materials, know about break-in periods, and know just how these self-oiling units function.

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