Lightweight Bearings from 3D-printing: 3D-printing revolutionizes the Production


Less material means less weight. 3D printing processes enable the production of components whose shape and internal structure can be freely designed. Combined with Franke wire race bearings, this creates the lightest bearing assemblies on the market.

The Principle of Wire Race Bearings

Integrated into an enclosing housing the wire race bearing absorbs forces from all directions. In order to adapt wire race bearings to the requirements of the application, numerous options are available in terms
of wire profile, raceways, ball diameter and material.

By using lightweight materials and state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques, Franke‘s lightweight bearings enable substantial weight, energy and space savings with comparable rigidity and maximum
precision over the entire service life. The advantages are apparent:

• Alternative materials such as 3D printing, high-strength plastic or carbon (CFRP) allow significant weight savings.
• Low moving masses ensure energy efficiency and smooth running.
• A free design of the enclosing construction allows savings in connected assemblies.
• Many lightweight materials have positive secondary properties, such as low material expansion or non-magnetism.

Through examinations and analyzes, the enclosing parts of bearing assemblies can be designed so that the material used and the wall thicknesses meet the loads. However, there are often limits to the design. Not everything that looks good on the CAD screen can be manufactured in reality. There are limitations in machining production as well as economic restrictions, in particular for mold making for CFRP parts.

3D printing is remixing the cards

In 3D printing, objects are built up layer by layer from metal particles. This is also called an „additive procedure“. This implies a reversal of conventional manufacturing methods, which are usually associated with the removal of material.

Franke lightweight bearing with housing made of 3D printing and integrated wire race bearing. Clearly visible is the filigree structure of the enclosing parts.

The layered structure of the parts enable completely new possibilities of design. Internal honeycomb structures, varying wall thicknesses and even a mix in the texture of the material are possible and help to make constructions even more delicate and easy. Another advantage of this technology is the fast availability. An appropriately configured CAD file is sufficient to put the printer into action. Shortly thereafter, the required parts are available for further processing. Starting with batch size 1, 3D printing becomes the ideal manufacturing method, as no further tools are needed. This results in a number of advantages for customers of Franke‘s 3D printed lightweight bearings:

• extremely low weight and compact design
• bespoke design according to your requirements
• Bearing diameter currently available from 80 – 300 mm (larger diameters on request)
• Batch size 1 possible with fast availability

The weight savings of 3D printed bearing assemblies over conventional manufactured bearings are huge. With the same bearing diameter and the integration of a comparable wire race bearing in the housing rings,
the weight saving compared to a conventional steel bearing is almost 90%.









Expert interview: Lightweight Bearings from 3D-printing

Video: How 3D-printed housing parts are made

More information on Franke lightweight bearings


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