February 02, 2023

The team behind igus:bike – Ball bearings

The development of ball bearings for the igus:bike is firmly in women’s hands. Lena and Julia make sure that the bearings in the wheel hubs and bottom bracket work perfectly. And that too without the problems that metallic ball bearings have – because the bearings from igus® are made of high-performance plastic as a matter of course and operate without lubricants, so they don’t need any maintenance. In addition, they are of course also rust-proof. The points mentioned above also apply to the remaining parts of the igus:bike, by the way. If you would like to delve deeper into the world of ball bearings, you will certainly find everything you need to know here.

The developers Lena and Julia with their developed ball bearings

But let’s move on to the developers. Lena has been with igus for a few years and works in the area of material development for polymer ball bearings. As she is an enthusiastic cyclist herself and works on and maintains her bike herself, the development assignment came naturally to her – to participate in the development of a maintenance-free bike and to revolutionise the future of cycling a little bit … which is an exciting prospect! And let’s be honest, who likes to maintain their bike? Lubricants are something everyone would like to do without.

The second in the group is Julia, who was brought into the igus:bike project by Lena shortly after she started at igus. She has been part of the igus:bike project for a year now, which has made it very easy for her to join the multidisciplinary team of developers. Julia works in the same product area as Lena, but is in charge of the product development of the polymer ball bearings.

Design study of the ball bearing

The beginning of the development of the ball bearings for the igus:bike started classically with mechanically manufactured ball bearings in order to get to know the design and the requirements for use on a bicycle. The switch to injection-moulded ball bearings was then made. Various plastic compounds were tested and further developed in the in-house test laboratory. By the way, the test rigs for bicycle components were developed in-house in order to produce the best possible components for the plastic bicycle.

And on the way from the idea to the finished product, there are of course minor setbacks, such as the problem of noise development. Various solution approaches were considered, the current favourite being the design study of a two-component ball bearing. With this, the soft core ensures a smooth and dampened motion of the balls, while the hard shell provides the necessary stability.

The developers present the ball bearings

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