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Self-lube bearings bring smooth motion to vf/f/s machines

A special polymer injection-molded with dry lubricants blended in is at the heart of the self-lubricating bearings used on these machines.

Pw 7864 Oan Matrix Mach

Matrix Packaging Machinery, a manufacturer of vertical form/fill/seal machines for products ranging from green beans to candy to detergent, uses DryLin® linear bearings from igus on its G Series machines. That includes the Matrix Proteus, Mercury, and Ares models.

According to Matrix president Marcel Willden, the G Series machines operate at speeds to 65 cycles/min. They also operate in some pretty abusive environments. That’s what led to the use of DryLin bearings, which Willden describes as a low-cost, maintenance-free alternative to other solutions Matrix has tried, including oil-impregnated bearings or metal ball bearings.

In a typical Matrix G Series bagging machine, there might be 10 igus bearings deployed. They’re used on a round shaft and are designed to minimize friction as the shaft reciprocates back and forth in its linear path. The reason the igus bearings are self-lubricating is because the material that comes in contact with the reciprocating shaft is a special polymer that is injection-molded with dry lubricants blended in.

A good example of one of these bearings in action would be in the sealing-jaw assembly of a matrix machine. A round metal shaft is responsible for opening and closing the sealing jaws. An igus linear bearing is used to help the shaft move freely and without friction.

One style of Dry Lin bearings, a sleeve bearing, is especially easy to remove and replace should the need arise. It consists of two parts:
• a plastic liner, injection-molded of igus’s special polymer with lubricant blended in; it can be easily pushed onto a round shaft
• a split aluminum adapter that fits over the liner.

If replacement of the bearing is ever necessary, the aluminum adapter opens and the plastic liner can be replaced. This saves the packager considerable time and money.

“Our machines are sold all over the world, and every machine operates in a different environment,” says Willden, “dusty or wash-down environments, as well as a variety of other harsh conditions. Our customers don’t have to worry about lubricating these bearings. Instead, they benefit from machines that run longer without service.”

According to management at Matrix, expectations for the igus linear bearings were exceeded when one of them endured 7 million cycles with little or no noticeable wear.

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