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How leading bearing manufacturers apply 3D printing technology in production?

Jul 01 ,2019

Bowman International is a leading designer and manufacturer of bearings. In addition to producing conventional bearings, Bowman also produces customized bearings.

In 2016, Bowman Company set up a special production department for adding materials, Bowman Additive Production, which provides customized bearing design, prototype design, testing, inspection and production services for industrial bearing users.

The application of 3D printing technology enhances Bowan's ability to produce small batches of bearings quickly, and brings more room for Bowan to optimize the performance and life of some of its bearings.

Now Bowman Additive Production is equipped with two kinds of additional material manufacturing equipment, one is EOS selective laser sintering equipment, the other is HP multi-jet melting equipment (MJF), and Bowman uses nylon 11 as the printing material.

The first product Bowman developed using 3D printing technology was a plastic bearing cage. The application of 3D printing technology enables Bowman to realize the production of plastic bearing cage without injection mould. This not only enables Bowman to respond quickly to the modification of product design, but also enhances the competitiveness of small and medium batch customized bearings in rapid production.

With the help of 3D printing technology, Bowman optimizes the cage design. Many complex structures are integrated in the cage. 3D printing equipment can realize the production of this complex design in an economical way.

According to the understanding of 3D Science Valley, the main function of cage is to keep the proper distance between the rolling elements, reduce the friction moment and heat generated by friction, and make the rolling elements evenly distributed throughout the bearing, optimize load distribution and reduce noise. Therefore, the design and material of cage have a significant impact on the applicability of rolling bearings in specific applications.

When designing the 3D printing cage, Bowman uses an interlocking structure, and the rolling element holds each part of the cage together. The advantage of this design is that there is more space around the cage circumference, so compared with similar products on the market, this product can increase 2-4 rollers. This means that the bearing load can be distributed on a larger number of rollers.

Bowman said that owning the 3-D printing bearing cage, its split bearing capacity increased by 70% and its working life extended to 500%. Bowman can increase the bearing load and life without changing the design of other components in the bearing.

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