Solid Lubricants: Which is Best?

As bearing technology evolves, solid lubrication is increasingly becoming a replacement for traditional greasing methods. Solid lubrication provides lubrication for the life of the bearing. This is a huge benefit – one that eliminates maintenance and improves performance.

But not all solid lubricants are created equal. Solid lubricants can be applied as a manufacturing step or it can be added as an aftermarket modification. The type of solid lubricant you choose for your application makes a big difference in bearing performance.

What is a Solid Lubricant?

A solid lube is an oil-saturated polymer material molded into the interior of the bearing, filling all internal space without impeding the rolling elements. Micro-pores as small as one ten-thousandth of an inch within the polymer release oil while in use and reabsorb it when the bearing is at rest. Solid lube can hold up to four times the base oil as most greased bearings.

Concerns with Aftermarket Solid Lubrication

This is done by removing one factory seal on the bearing and flushing out the grease in order to apply the polymer. In order to apply the lubricant the seal is removed on the fill side. After applying the solid lubricant, the removed seal remains unreplaced. This application process leads to several long-term problems:

Fill reliability

The process of aftermarket application creates an unreliable fill due to “trapped air” creating voids in the solid lubricant. The seals and shields obstruct the view making it impossible to see these problems before putting the bearing into use. The uneven fill can leave parts unprotected and unlubricated, shortening the bearing’s life.

A turner bearing insert with a competitor's solid lubricant installed. The polymer is uneven, leaving gaps around the retainer and balls.

Damage from contaminants

Inconsistent fill with voids can leave the internal rolling elements unprotected and open to damage by contaminants. Additionally visual inspection of the polymer fill is impossible.

Sealing problems

With aftermarket modification the polymer fill functions as a seal replacement on the fill side. This results in inadequate sealing. All of this reduces the polymer’s ability to protect the bearing long-term, leading to diminished performance and costly maintenance.

Factory Installed Permanent Lubrication: A Better Choice

Having the solid polymer installed as part of the manufacturing process provides several advantages for the lifespan and performance of the bearing. Our Turner Protected by Lubrilife bearings, have the solid lubricant Lubrilife factory installed.

Uniform fill

This is the first advantage. When the solid lube is part of the manufacturing process the fill will be complete and even, ensuring that all the rolling elements are protected from wear and contamination.

Two bearing inserts. One bearing shows the Lubrilife solid lubricant, and the other shows a competitor's solid lubricant. Lubrilife looks smooth and uniform, completely covering the retainer and rolling elements.

Inspection of the solid lubrication

Because the fill is completed before seals are installed, the fill is also able to be visually inspected to verify that it was applied consistently. With an aftermarket fill there is no way to verify the completeness of the fill. 

Superior protection

Once the fill is perfect, the seals and shields are installed on the bearing before shipping it. With Lubrilife both seals are intact to provide damage protection from contamination. This means a user can feel confident that their bearing will have both the lubricant and the seal protection needed for optimal performance.

Better oil retention

Lubrilife also features a microscopic structure that distributes and retains oil better. In a run-test against the after market competition (link to L4L vs. competitor test results), Lubrilife proved to have higher oil retention with far less oil loss— meaning the bearing can perform better and last longer. 

In conclusion, when it comes to ensuring optimal bearing performance and longevity, the advantages of factory-installed solid lubrication, exemplified by technologies like Lubrilife, surpass the drawbacks of aftermarket application. 

The precision of a uniform fill during the manufacturing process guarantees comprehensive coverage,  safeguarding rolling elements from wear and contamination. Furthermore, knowing that the manufacturer has the ability to visually inspect and verify the lubricant’s application gives a measure of  confidence. Additionally, integrated sealing mechanisms enhance protection and reduce maintenance. 

With superior oil retention capabilities, these solutions underscore their value by promoting efficient, long-lasting, and reliable bearing performance. For engineers shaping the future of engineering, the path forward is clear: embracing factory-installed solid lubrication offers a smarter, more effective approach to achieving peak bearing functionality.

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No More Maintenance.
No More Contamination.
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