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Thrust bearings made using polymer

11 February 2008

Thrust bearings designed and developed by Waukesha Bearings implementing Victrex Peek polymer have proven successful after three years of continuous use. Hiperax bearings have been installed in wet wound heater lift pumps by Weir Engineering Services. The bearings manufactured from Victrex Peek 450FC30 are insert moulded onto a substrate by High Performance Mouldings.

According to Dr. Guy Pethybridge, global product manager of Waukesha Bearings, “Waukesha saw the need to develop a thrust bearing that could handle high load capacity in water-lubricated applications. We developed the Hiperax thrust bearing and decided to implement Victrex Peek into the design because of its unique set of tribological properties and attributes. The combination of our design expertise and the properties and wear resistance of Victrex Peek polymer resulted in the development of Hiperax thrust bearings. The Hiperax bearings can support loads of up to 8 MPa whilst running continuously in water at 65ºC.”

“Victrex Peek polymer bearings provide an alternative in both oil-lubricated applications and those lubricated by the process fluid. These bearings combine excellent surface properties with a high working temperature. In the conventional oil-lubricated environment, the polymer-faced bearing will run hotter than its metallic counterpart because of the low thermal conductivity of the material. In practice, this leads to thinner working oil films compared to metallic surfaced bearings, but, because of the improved surface properties of the polymer materials, the actual load capacity can be higher. [Polymer offers benefits such as] higher operating temperatures up to 250°C (480°F); higher load capability; corrosion resistance when operating in process fluids; and high electrical resistivity (better than 109 Ωm)".

"It is clear that the designers of the next generation of pumps have many options available to cope with the wide range of pump operating conditions. Our Hiperax thrust bearings made with Victrex Peek are still in use after three years of operation with minimal wear, despite the presence of system debris such as rust, which certainly proves polymers offer significant benefits in the right circumstances," concluded Dr. Pethybridge.

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