Functional Hybrid Bearing Components Made From Hybrid Materials
A Project between Schaeffler and Polymertal
EDITOR: JULIAN WESCH
Hybrid materials, which are made by joining several materials, play an important role in many different industrial applications, due to their properties that enable lightweight structures and increased performance, such as durability and shock absorption. In particular, the global bearing market will witness increasing demand for hybrid materials and additive manufacturing technologies.
A s a key player in the bearing market, the automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler has a long tradition of manufacturing high-quality bearings for vehicles and machinery. Therefore, Schaeffler is constantly seeking methods to improve the properties of bearings, such as wear resistance by minimizing friction and weight. The Schaeffler team was looking for a production startup in this space and secured a promising partnership with Polymertal. The startup from Israel develops an advanced technology to create complex polymeric structure parts with a high strength-to-weight ratio by connecting metallic layers to the substrate. With the hybrid part, the material properties are enhanced, and new features are added such as electrical and thermal conductivity as well as corrosion and wear resistance.
For the collaboration, Schaeffler decided to co-develop a hybrid bearing cage. Schaeffler provided the full system requirements, while Polymertal’s responsibility is to develop the optimal integration between the polymer and metallic layer and manufacture the prototypes.
By combining Schaeffler’s expertise in designing roller bearings with Polymertal’s innovation for hybrid material solutions, the teams expect to increase the product’s wear resistance and out-perform the polymeric version of the bearing.
After the project kick-off in April 2021, both teams worked jointly in the development phase of the project, using an agile project management approach to come up with the specific product properties and implementation method.
Bearings are crucial safety-relevant components that require special care with regard to quality. Therefore, strict requirements and quality standards are met and a variety of parameters are taken into consideration, as their effect on the overall system performance of the final product is highly significant. Schaeffler and Polymertal concluded that ensuring the desired quality standards is a key element of a successful proof-of-concept. The parts will be thoroughly tested in a DoE that was jointly constructed by the two partners. Through these testing and experiments, Schaeffler and Polymertal bearingexpect to witness the impact of the hybrid material on the roller bearing cage in real-life bench testing.
While the project is currently in the development phase, the objective of the collaboration remains the same: To develop a hybrid material based roller bearing cage using a polymeric substrate with a metallic cover. Following the development stage, prototypes will be manufactured and will go into lab testing in Israel and will then be tested at a Schaeffler location in Germany.
We would like to express our sincere thanks to Dr. Kay Marschalkowski (Schaeffler, Innovation Lead Advanced Production Technology) and Guy Varon (Polymertal).
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