The devices usually have plastic raceways and metallic, plastic, or glass balls. Growing application areas for plastic ball bearings include disposable medical devices, automotive steering systems, and integrated bearing/gear/housing systems that previously required multiple components.

In a new blood separator, for instance, nonlubricated, gamma-radiation sterilized plastic ball bearings are an integral part of the disposable component containing the collection tubes and storage reservoirs. In an automotive steering system, plastic ball bearings were selected because designers could integrate several components into a single unit. In this application, the bearings' shockload capability and resistance to brinelling also improved overall steering performance.

Traditional plastic-ball-bearing applications were liquid-submersed environments where lubrication was impossible and corrosion was a problem, such as pool and spa products, film-processing equipment, and food-processing machinery. Plastic ball bearings, however, were often overlooked in more common applications.

This information supplied by KMS Bearings Inc., Anaheim, Calif.