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As fast as the fire service: the igus 3D printing service for wear-resistant parts

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  • What was needed: plain bearing for remote-controlled camera dolly
  • Manufacturing process: igus® 3D printing service 
  • Requirements: quick availability, wear-resistant, cost-effective
  • Material: iglidur® I180
  • Branch of industry: camera motion systems
  • Success for the customer: Spare part delivered the same day


What do you do when an important replacement part for an exhibit suddenly goes missing on the way to the trade fair? The response of the Berlin-based company Blackcam, a manufacturer of camera motion systems, is to turn to the igus® 3D printing service. Using industrial 3D printers, the motion plastics specialist manufactures unique customer parts designed for low friction and high wear resistance within a few hours. This is how the missing special lubrication-free plain bearing was made.

Cost-effective replacement parts – even one-off parts or small series

A look behind the scenes of any Hollywood film set will almost always reveal a track on which the large camera dolly moves. But what has worked well for decades for filming movies is not suitable for live broadcasts, as these camera dolly systems can restrict the audience's view at concerts and sports events. Blackcam, a Berlin-based company, is therefore developing a new solution: compact, remote-controlled dolly systems that move the camera over narrow rails. These types of dolly systems are becoming increasingly popular in the entertainment industry. Ferenc Tiefenbach, an engineer at Blackcam, is often on the road with exhibits at trade fairs. While travelling through Düsseldorf Airport, the engineer was carrying the prototype of a new dolly system developed for football matches when he noticed one of the plain bearings was defective. He did not have a spare part with him. So what to do? Tiefenbach turned to the igus® 3D printing service. The motion plastics specialist produces small series and one-offs from high-performance plastics quickly using industrial 3D printers.

3D printed bearing ready for collection within hours

3D printed grippers  

Upload the CAD model of the part to the igus® website, select printing material, for example iglidur® I180, a highly wear-resistant, high-performance plastic, and order it immediately. The part is shipped usually within 24 hours. "In my urgent case, I was able to pick up the bearing a few hours after placing the order," Ferenc Tiefenbach enthuses about the service, which is not a given in the industry. Thus the exhibit was once again ready for the trade fair. "It is remarkable that, despite the size of the company, igus® can produce a single component so quickly. "The costs are also reasonable. The component cost 96 euros.

High-performance plastic more wear-resistant than standard ABS filament

igus® uses iglidur® I180 for 3D printing as well as other materials from the range available. The high-performance plastic is impressive with its high wear resistance. Its superiority over the classic filament made of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) has been proven in experiments in igus® test laboratory. Plain bearings moved on a 0.37-metre-long, hard anodised aluminium shaft at a speed of 0.34 metres per second and a surface pressure of 0.11 MPa. The result: The 3D-printed bearing made of ABS showed a wear rate of 13.3 micrometres per kilometre. For the bearing made of iglidur I180 over the same distance, the wear was only 0.8 micrometres. However, the bearings are not only more durable, they are also more economical in operation. They enable maintenance-free dry operation without the need for lubricating oil. Thus, they are the ideal candidates for the camera dolly systems from Blackcam.

Further application reports

Maintenance-free 3D-printed grippers

Plastic grippers from igus® filaments. They come directly from the 3D printing process.  Since 2015, igus® has been offering tribologically optimised 3D print filaments for 3D printing. If the CAD data of a product are available, it would be easy to manufacture it in an additive process.

Robust special bearing for hay swathers

FELLA has been designing implements for tractors for more than 90 years. These include mowers, hay rakes and swathers. The tractors have to withstand a lot of hard treatment in day-to-day work. igus® has produced especially robust special parts for FELLA.

Special bearings from bar stock for highest precision

iglidur® bar stock is used to manufacture a microscope arm for eye examinations. The reason: it can be machined to produce customised plain bearings down to sizes measured in μm to ensure the necessary precision for examinations.  

Here, you can find the products used
Further interesting applications from very different areas of use can be found here: