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Plain Bearings

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What are plain bearings used for?

Plain bearings as well as rolling bearings are guiding elements that are used between moving, mostly rotating components such as axles or journals and stationary housing parts. Plain bearings and rolling bearings have the task of guiding and supporting the components and securing their position. They absorb and transmit the forces occurring between the components. Depending on the direction of the forces to be transmitted, a distinction is made between axial and radial bearings. The installation location, the level of the forces that occur and the speeds of the rotating parts define the requirements for the bearing. The requirements determine the material, the design and the type of lubrication of the bearing.


In plain bearing operation, a sliding movement occurs between the bearing and the moving component, during which various types of friction can occur. If there is no lubrication in the form of grease or oil on the contact surfaces of the components, solid friction occurs, which leads to wear: The components wear out. If the contact surfaces are evenly lubricated, liquid friction occurs. Here, the components have no contact with each other and the bearing operates wear-free. In mixed friction, the lubricant is not present on the entire contact surface: There is sporadic contact between the components and thus wear. Ideally, there is a lubricant layer distributed over the entire surface in operation, which ensures wear-free running and a long bearing service life.


The various plain bearings differ from each other in the way they are lubricated. Hydrodynamic and hydrostatic bearings are based on the principle of an external supply and maintenance of lubricant with the help of a pump. This type of lubrication is costly, maintenance-intensive and is primarily used for special load and speed requirements. Bearings with dry lubrication are much easier to maintain. With these bearings, the lubricant is already integrated in the bearing material and requires no additional lubrication - it lubricates itself. When deciding to buy a plain bearing, it is advisable to check whether a self-lubricating bearing is a possibility.

Self-lubricating plain bearings

If the bearings do not require relubrication, we are talking about low-maintenance, self-lubricating bearings. The lubricant is already introduced into the bearing sliding layer during manufacture. In operation, the lubricant reaches the contact surface through the large-pored material of the bearing. There it spreads and protects the component surfaces from direct contact and thus from wear. The self-lubricating bearings are particularly suitable for use under dry conditions. They operate smoothly and have a high wear resistance, which can be further increased by adding lubricant or oil. Various plain bearing materials are suitable for this type of bearing, with plain bearings made of plastic becoming increasingly popular.


Various materials can be used for plain bearings, such as: Metal, plastic, composite, ceramic or graphite. Suitable metal materials for self-lubricating bearings are copper alloys, which are softer than the shaft material. As a result, the wear that occurs over time occurs first on the bearing, which can be replaced at low cost. This avoids costly repairs to the shaft. Bearing bushings made by sintering have coarse pores that facilitate the absorption of the lubricant. Plastics and composites also have good properties for absorbing lubricants. Graphite bearings or inserts do not require pre-treatment with lubricant: the finest particles of abrasion have a self-lubricating effect. When choosing plain bearing materials, the material pairing must be taken into account due to the different wear behaviour.

Plastic plain bearing

Due to its properties, plastic offers advantages over other materials in numerous industrial sectors. Plastic plain bearings are light, corrosion-resistant and insensitive to dirt. They have high mechanical damping, are resistant to chemicals and have a low coefficient of friction. The respective area of application of these bearings depends on the properties of the plastic types and composite materials used. Bearings made of PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) are characterised by excellent sliding properties and high wear resistance. Bearings made of a plastic composite containing phenolic resin and PTFE are suitable for environments with corrosive and aggressive chemicals. Plain bearings made of plastic are used, among other things, in electroplating and coating plants, the food and semiconductor industries and underwater applications.

Plain bearings and their advantages

The various types of plain bearings offer a variety of advantages over other bearing types. They run quietly, are robust and mostly insensitive to dirt. With the lubricating film between the components, they have a vibration-damping effect in case of vibrations and shocks. They are simple in design and can support high loads due to their large bearing surface. With the various materials and designs, which include cylindrical bushings, flanged bushings, flanged washers, thrust washers and sliding strips, plain bearings have advantages in their versatile areas of application. If you want to buy plain bearings, we will help you find the ideal solution for your application.

Low-maintenance pedestal bearings with phenolic plain bearing insert

For pillow block bearings, MOVET offers the plain bearing insert consisting of a stainless steel bearing sleeve and a bearing bush made of thermoplastic phenolic resin. This bearing unit is characterised by excellent performance with a long service life without additional lubrication. It is suitable for use in various environments due to its corrosion resistance, high wear resistance and self-lubricating function. It can be used in both dry and wet places, in salt water and in steam. For special use, the housing in which the bearing bush is inserted is made of stainless steel. For standard applications or for use at high temperatures, cast iron is the suitable material.
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