Manufacturing packaging equipment such as form fill and seal machinery requires the ultimate in flexibility, as equipment must be built to handle a huge variety of products from green beans and candy to soaps and detergents. The right bearing is an important part of getting the work done, while the wrong choice can lead to unintended and unwelcome downtime. This was the firsthand discovery of Matrix Packaging Machinery Inc., Saukville, Wis., when the company ran into bearing trouble; recirculating ball bearings began causing shaft damage and grease leaks in some of Matrix’s packaging equipment.

Matrix manufactures form fill and seal packaging equipment to handle a wide range of products. The company was using metal ball bearings in its G Series machines — capable of reaching up to 160 cycles per minute — but the bearings suffered from ingress of dirt, dust, and other contaminants that scored the shafts. The metal bearings also required regular lubrication and Matrix was receiving reports of grease leaks on some of its machines.

During a quest for better bearings, the company decided to try lubrication-free, dirt-resistant DryLin R linear bearings from igus inc., East Providence, R.I., instead. To date, DryLin R has been in operation for 10 million cycles in some of Matrix’s machines, during which period the company has noticed little to no shaft wear and even a slight increase in production due to the bearings’ lightweight design. DryLin R manages loads up to 15 lb per machine and operates at a speed of 750 feet per minute.

The new bearings consist of two parts: a plastic liner, made from low-wear material that can be pushed easily onto the shaft, and a split aluminum adapter that fits over the liner. Installation time is greatly reduced because the DryLin R bearings eliminate the need to remove the shaft from its housing. If replacement is necessary, the adapter shell opens easily and only the dirt-proof plastic liner needs to be replaced. This feature saves the end user time, and in some cases, has reduced replacement part costs by 90 percent. For more information, visit www.igus.com.