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igus® Ltd.

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Wear-resistant polymer: 3D printed components in the test lab

Go to the tests:

Low abrasive friction due to tribology polymers from the 3D printer

Wear is an important aspect of parts in moving applications. Wear-resistant polymers such as our iglidur materials are the solution for minimising wear and increasing the parts' service life. Due to the tribological properties, the iglidur materials are perfect for all application areas in which good coefficient of friction and very low wear are important.  
 
The igus test laboratory covers 3,800m². In an extensive series of experiments, igus is researching and developing new 3D printing materials for moving applicationsin the industry's largest test laboratory. All materials are tested regarding their tribological properties in different test series so as to minimise wear and maintenance intervals. They are particularly low-friction and wear-resistant and ensure a lubrication-free and low-maintenance operation. iglidur polymers offer very good tribological properties and ensure a longer service life for polymer components.

In our test lab, we continuously test tribological properties of 3D printed parts based on DIN ISO 7148-2. The series of tests cover linear, pivoting and rotary movements on different shaft materials. With our filament iglidur® J260-PF, friction values and wear were low in all tests, while the standard ABS material quickly failed the rotating test on the stainless steel shaft. The printed plain bearings made from the iglidur special filament had a similar wear resistance to the standard iglidur injection-moulded parts on all test rigs. Thanks to the wear-resistant plastic iglidur I3 and an optimised tooth shape, our 3D-printed gears achieve a longer service life than standard materials.
 
 

Wear test: linear long stroke

3D printing materials in the test: wear-resistant polymer iglidur® I3 beats ABS material by factor 33
Linear tests (long stroke)  

Test parameters:

  • Surface pressure: 0.11MPa
  • Surface speed: 0.34m/s
  • Stroke: 370mm
  • Shaft materials: alu hc
  • Duration: 3 weeks

Wear test linear graph  

     Y = wear rate [μm/km]
 
     1. ABS (FDM)
     2. iglidur® I180 (FDM)
     3. iglidur® I3 (SLS)
     4. iglidur® J injection-moulded

Abrasive wear of linear sliding bushes after test  

Test result:
the long-stroke test shows lower coefficient of wear by factor 15 for iglidur I180 (FDM) and even by factor 33 for iglidur I3 (SLS). Due to the very good tribological properties, the wear-resistant iglidur materials are ideal for long-stroke applications, such as X-Y gantries for pick-and-place applications or plain bearings and glide bars in the 3D printer.

Wear test: linear short stroke

Tribological properties of plain bearings from the 3D printer almost identical to injection-moulded ones
Wear test linear short stroke  

Test parameters:

  • Surface pressure: 1MPa
  • Surface speed: 0.3 m/s
  • Stroke: 5mm
  • Shaft materials: CF53 (left bar) and 304 SS (right bar)
  • Duration: 1 week

Wear test linear graph  

Y = wear rate [μm/km]
 
1. ABS (FDM)
2. iglidur® J260 (FDM)
3. iglidur® J260 (FDM)

Wear test linear short stroke  

Test result:
the plain bearings made of wear-resistant polymer iglidur J260 have similarly good wear rates, independent from the manufacturing method. iglidur J260 injection-moulding plain bearings and bearings printed in 3D were tested with the same load and surface speed.  
In addition, this test shows that with our iglidur 3D printing materials coefficient of friction and abrasive wear are a lot lower than with standard ABS materials thanks to tribological properties.

Wear test: pivoting

Up to 50 times higher abrasion resistance thanks to iglidur polymers
Wear test swivelling  

Test parameters:

  • Surface pressure: 20 MPa
  • Surface speed: 0.01m/s
  • Pivoting angle: 60°
  • Shaft materials: 304 SS
  • Duration: 4 weeks

Wear test swivelling graph  

Y= wear rate [µm/km


1. PA12 (SLS)
2. PA12 + glass balls (SLS)
3. iglidur® I3 (SLS)
4. iglidur® W300 injection-moulded

Abrasive wear of plain bearings in the swivelling wear test  

Test result:

During the swivel test, the tribological properties of the iglidur filaments lead to a  50 times higher abrasion resistance compared to the standard 3D printing materials (e.g. ABS). Wear-resistant polymer ensures a much longer service life of plain bearings and other components.

Wear test: pivoting heavy load

Comparable tribological properties of printed and injection-moulded plain bearings
Swivelling heavy load wear test  

Test parameters:

  • Surface pressure: 10, 20 and 45MPa
  • Surface speed: 0.01m/s
  • Pivoting angle: 60°
  • Duration: 1 week

Swivelling heavy load wear test graph  

      Y= wear rate [µm/km] 
       
      1. iglidur® I3 (SLS)
      2. iglidur® I180 (FDM)
      3. iglidur® G injection-moulded
      4. iglidur® W300 injection-moulded

      Wear-resistant polymer in swivelling heavy load wear test  

      Test result:
      this heavy load test shows that plain bearings printed in 3D (with the SLS printing method) withstand loads of up to 45MPa surface pressure. It demonstrates that abrasive wear and tribological properties are just as good as withplain bearings made with injection moulding. Plain bearings with a diameter and length of 20mm were tested, i.e. the 3D printed plain bearing was loaded with 1,800kg. The test results show that plain bearings made of wear-resistant iglidur polymers are also suitable for heavy-duty applications.  

      Wear test: drive nut

      iglidur materials in 3D printing: wear-resistant polymers more durable by factor 6 to factor 18 compared to standard materials
      Wear-resistant drive nut  

      Test parameters:

      • Torque: 129Nm
      • Stroke: 370mm
      • Speed: 290 [rpm]
      • Duration: two weeks

      Drive nut wear test graph  

      Y = wear rate [mg/km]
       
      1. ABS (FDM)
      2. iglidur® I180 (FDM)
      3. iglidur® J260 (FDM)
      4. iglidur® I3 (SLS)
      5. iglidur® J injection-moulded

      Wear-resistant drive nut  

      Test result:
      in this test, the wear resistance of igus 3D printing materials is higher  by factor 6 to factor 18 compared to conventional materials, depending on 3D printing materials and method.
      Printing drive nuts in 3D offers cost advantages especially with low quantities, as the thread can be produced directly in the 3D printer and therefore no expensive tool for cutting the thread is required. The thread only needs to be constructed in the model.
       

      Friction test: rotating

      Comparison of wear-resistant polymer iglidur and standard ABS material - lower coefficient of friction with iglidur
      Friction test rotating  

      Test parameters:

      • Surface pressure: 1MPa
      • Surface speed: 0.1m/s
      • Shaft material: Cf53

      Friction test rotating graph  

      Y = coefficient of friction [-]
      X = duration [h]

       
      1. PA12 (SLS)
      2. iglidur I3 (SLS)
       

       

      Abrasive wear in the test: coefficient of friction rotating  

      Test result:
      the tribological properties of iglidur I3 are better by factor 2 in the test as with the standard 3D printing materials.  This is due to the fact that iglidur materials contain solid lubricants, which lower coefficient of friction and significantly increase wear resistance. Wear-resistant polymers and tribological properties are helpful for designing motors and drive forces, as half the friction only requires half the drive force.

      Gears made of wear-resistant polymer in the test

      Comparison POM and iglidur I6: downtime at POM - iglidur I6 hardly any abrasive wear
       

      Test parameters:

      • Torque: 4,9Nm
      • Speed: 12 [rpm]
      • Counter partner: hard anodised aluminium
      • Duration: 2 months
      1. POM: 321,000 cycles: High wear
      2. POM: 621,000 cycles: downtime
      3. iglidur® I6: 1 million cycles: low wear
       
      Test result:

      In the worm gear test a variety of polymers were tested. Both manufactured mechanically and printed in 3D.  No other polymer reached as long a service life as our wear-resistant polymer iglidur I6 (in SLS printing).  Due to the very good tribological properties, worm gears made of iglidur I6 are also used in the robolink modular system for robot arms.

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