Bearing specialist Kolbenschmidt is expanding its portfolio of lead-free plain bearings for commercial vehicle and industrial applications, and is focusing on the eventual complete elimination of the heavy metal lead from its bearings.
Lead is still a widely used industrial metal, valued for its enhanced formability and workability as well as its resistance to weathering and corrosion. However, it is also harmful to the environment and to health. According to the company, its plain bearings unit took a leading role in the changeover to zero-lead bearings in the EU passenger car segment where, since 2011, it has been using only lead-free plain bearings.
Based on the experience gained in the passenger car sector, the company is pushing for its commercial vehicle and industrial customers to also start converting to lead-free plain bearing solutions at an early stage of product development. With an eye on long product life cycles and changing regulations, it notes it is important to ensure that the material design is future-proof today.
When it comes to engine plain bearings for commercial vehicles, the company highlights its lead-free steel/aluminum bearing shells KS R25 and KS R53, which it says have proven their robustness in series production.
However, depending on the engine concept and application area, it notes polymer-coated bearing shells, lead-free electroplated bearings or high-performance sputter bearings can also be used as all are lead-free and thus future-proof.