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ThinKing October – Material selection in lightweight aluminum-titanium bearings reduces weight by half while maintaining full performance potential



Reducing the weight of cars can make them more fun to drive and increase their performance dynamics while keeping fuel and material consumption low. The newest generation of spherical bearings manufactured by HIRSCHMANN SPERICAL BEARINGS is making its own significant contribution to this trend: aluminum-titanium low-weight bearings which perform just as well as the normally used standard bearings, but with only half the weight – and at a reasonable price.

The Development Agency for Lightweighting Baden-Wuerttemberg is proud to present this innovation as its October ThinKing. The Leichtbau BW GmbH hands out this distinction each month to feature impressive products and innovations in the lightweighting sector in Baden-Wuerttemberg, a federal State in the southwest of Germany.

Inside titanium, outside aluminum

The innovative development by HIRSCHMANN consists of a high-strength outer ring made of aluminum, and inner ring made out of titanium and the unique HIRSCHMANN liner which the company produces out of PTFE and stainless steel support plates. Compared with other standard bearings made out of steel, these bearings weight about 50 percent less. This translates into better performance in nearly every driving situation from braking and accelerating to performance in the curves.

In terms of its value for the money, the new product is certainly par for the course, costing about twice as much for standard slide bearings. The added value comes from the significant weight reduction that results from the sum of all of the spherical bearings in the vehicle. Racing teams have long realized the advantage of weight reduction, and HIRSCHMANN lightweight bearings were used in the Porsche 919 hybrid car which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race.

Aluminum-titanium bearings benefit many lightweighting sectors

Titanium has similar properties to ceramics when it comes to weight reduction. The metal is however much more attractive to customers in a direct comparison due to its lower price. On the other hand, titanium is difficult to process and cold reforming can be a challenge. This is why HIRSCHMANN has opted to use a combination of different materials in its lightweight bearings and uses aluminum for the outer ring. The aluminum outer ring reduces weight by about two thirds, and the titanium inner ring cuts weight down by about a third compared to steel.

The engineers at HIRSCHMANN have designed the aluminum-titanium bearings to handle static and dynamic transfers of forces from several directions. The product is built to withstand high alternating loads and impact forces both radially and along the axial axis.

Read more in our Press Release