Polymer bearings, commonly known as plastic bearings, are the latest development in the bearings industry. A bearing is made up of four different parts: inner race, outer race, cage, and balls. The combination of these parts in unison allows smooth and friction free motion.
In polymer bearings, the inner race, the outer race, and the cage are all made up of plastic and the material used for manufacturing balls depends on the kind of applications and environmental conditions it gets subjected to. Materials that can be used to manufacture balls include plastic, stainless steel, and glass. Polymer bearings provide numerous advantages over other bearings.
This includes resistance to corrosion, chemicals, and fatigue, self-lubrication, lightweight, low co-efficient of friction, and quiet operation. Polymer bearings is an ideal option in applications where steel bearings cannot be used, owing to their corrosive tendencies. Furthermore, they are economical than the other types of bearings.
Therefore, these are used in various applications in industries such as food & beverages, textile, medical & pharmaceutical, and electrical. However, polymer ball bearings cannot be subjected to applications involving high loads and prolonged exposure to temperatures exceeding 300°F. This calls for need to use traditional bearings such as stainless steel bearings and ceramic bearings.
Ceramic bearings offer numerous advantages. They overcome most limitations generally encountered in the other two bearings, and can be subjected to high temperatures up to 1800°F and high loads. Despite these advantages, ceramic bearings are used less, as they are expensive. Thus, polymer bearings are widely being used, as they are economical and offer large number of advantages. The market for polymer bearings is expected to expand at a steady pace owing to the increasing usage of these bearings in a large number of industrial applications.
Based on the type of ball used in the bearings, the market for polymer bearings can be segmented into plastic ball bearing, glass ball bearing, and stainless steel ball bearing. The choice of the material to be used for balls highly depends on the kind of conditions and applications the bearing is subjected to. Plastic balls are generally used when there is a need of light weight, noise free operation. Glass balls are employed when a comparatively lighter option is required in a metal free application. Glass balls also exhibit less magnetic properties.
Based on end-use industry, the polymer bearings market can be segmented into chemical industry, food & beverages industry, textile industry, and medical & pharmaceutical industry. The usage of polymer bearings is increasing across these industrial segments. The chemical industry segment of the polymer bearings market is anticipated to expand at a steady pace due to the growth in the chemical industry. The chemical industry is witnessing considerable growth due to growing market of pharmaceutical products and consumer goods.
Geographically, the market for polymer bearings can be divided into North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Middle East & Africa. The polymer bearings market is likely to expand significantly in Asia Pacific owing to factors such as rapid industrialization and economic, infrastructural development in countries such as India, China, and Japan.
Key players operating in the polymer bearings market include Schaeffler Group, SKF, Timken Company, RKB Bearing Industries, NSK, and JTEKT Corporation.