igus develops “green” ball bearings made of recycled plastic as durable as the original

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Motion plastics specialist
igus launches a sustainable, recycled material variant of the proven xiros deep
groove ball bearing

igus has taken a further step
towards sustainable plastic production by using residues of the
high-performance plastic xirodur B180 from injection moulding production to
produce a sustainable variant of the popular xiros deep groove ball bearing.
The recycled version has almost the same technical properties and load limits
as a virgin xiros bearing.

Even the best injection moulding
production cannot recycle plastics in a 100% closed loop. Missing parts and
sprues are often unavoidable. This also applies to the production of igus deep
groove ball bearings, whose inner and outer rings are made of the
high-performance plastic xirodur B180, among other materials.

However, manufacturers can choose
what happens to the excess material. Discarding them in the industrial waste is
not an option, for obvious reasons. And emissions from incineration add to
pollution. “As a plastics manufacturer, we are aware of our responsibility
to people and nature, so we have developed a process to recycle residues of the
high-performance plastic xirodur B180 into a regranulate,” says Rob
Dumayne, director of the dry-tech® division at igus UK. Excess amounts of the
engineered plastic xirodur B180 ECO, which is a characteristic green colour, is
used in injection moulding production at igus to produce a recycled version of
the xiros deep groove ball bearing.

Recycling variant with
proven physical properties in tests

The new ECO (igus trade name)
variant is made of four components. The inner and outer rings are made of
recycled xirodur B180 ECO, the cage is made of recycled iglidur J4 material,
the balls can be either stainless steel or glass. Here customers don’t have to
worry about any compromises in quality. “Our test laboratory in Cologne
proves that the recycled version of the ball bearing achieves almost the same
technical properties and load limits as the original,” says Dumayne.
“The only drawback is that the recycled plastic xirodur B180 ECO is no
longer FDA-compliant, and therefore no longer suitable for direct contact with
food. But there are so many non-food applications that make a recycled version

Just like the original, the green
recycled ball bearings enable quiet, lubricant-free and hygienic dry running in
machines and systems, for example in the printing industry, in labelling and
packaging machines. Here, the ECO variant polymer bearings also show some
advantages compared with classic metal bearings as. The recycled deep groove
plastic ball bearing is corrosion-free, particularly resistant to chemicals, non-magnetic
and electrically insulating. In addition, it is up to 60% lighter and 40%
cheaper than the equivalent metal bearing.

Step by step to sustainable
plastics production

The new recycled material xirodur
B180 ECO is a further step on the igus’ journey to sustainability in plastics
production. Cylindrical plain bearings made of high-performance plastics have
been available in an ECO version since mid-2022. For 16 of its iglidur
materials, igus provides the exact CO2 footprint as Scope 3 emissions. In
addition, in 2019 the company launched “Chainge”, a recycling programme for
disused energy chains, from any manufacturer. The cradle-chain E2.1CG is the
first energy chain in the world made of 100% regranulate material. Since the
start of the programme, igus has collected 60 tons of high-performance
plastics, recycled them into new chains and transferred them from the classic
linear economy to the circular economy.

And another exciting “net zero” measure is igus’s investment in Mura Technology, a company whose technology converts non-recyclable plastic waste into petroleum within 20 minutes. The oil can then be used to produce new plastic granulate.