Igus, a global supplier of engineered plastic components headquartered in Cologne, Germany, is going to great lengths—some 100,000 kilometers, in fact—to prove that its dry-running bearings made of advanced composite materials are as good as, or even better than, factory-specified metal and lubricated plastic bearings in automotive applications.
It all started at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences, where a smart car was dismantled to determine which factory-installed bearings could be replaced safely with igus' iglide bearings. To stay in the good graces of German regulators, bearings used in safety and crash-related features of the car were off limits. But there were plenty of other switch-over opportunities.
Ultimately, 56 iglide bearings were retrofitted in the car's hinges, steering systems, gears, water pump, brake calipers, and other components. (A closer look at the parts that were replaced is available here.) Then the fun began.