Freudenberg Sealing Technologies has introduced a seal that comes with an integrated bearing: more into details, a plastic rotating bearing is combined with a seal in a single, precisely matched unit. The design offers significant weight, cost and friction advantages over separate bearings and seals and also improves the properties of the mated bearings and seals.
While mostly hidden from view, seals and bearings are nonetheless important components in automotive and industrial applications. They are key elements in operational safety and performance and their durability must be optimized to prevent system failure. At the same time, these bearings and seals must be small, lightweight and cost efficient in keeping with manufacturers’ efforts to remove cost and weight from vehicles without sacrificing performance.
SWIB: a brand-new acronym from Freudenberg
Freudenberg has resolved this challenge with the introduction of its seal with integrated bearing (SWIB). The company spent two years developing this engineered solution and has successfully tested it in a sensor housing of an electric power steering (EPS) system installed in an electric powered vehicle.
The sensor records data, like steering angle, which is critical to advanced driver assistance programs like electronic stability control (ESC). The seal inside the housing is responsible for protecting the sensor from the penetration of dust, splash water and other media over the entire service life of the vehicle.Bearings used in the assembly are also important; they must withstand significant mechanical loads, sometimes as much as 3,000 Newton of radial force when a car drives over a curb with its wheels at an extreme angle.
Reducing loads and vibration
According to the company, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies’ integrated solution offers significant improvements compared with separate bearings and seals. The rigidity of the integrated plastic bearing is higher so that its deflection is reduced by nearly 50 percent when lateral forces are exerted. This reduces the induced vibrations to increase the steering comfort for the driver. The seal, on the other hand, has 35 percent less friction, which reduces resistance during steering, especially important for highly automated driving.