Freudenberg introduces seal with integrated bearing for automotive
In an innovation first, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies has created a machine component that combines a plastic rotating bearing with a seal in a single, precisely matched unit. The design offers significant weight, cost, and friction advantages over separate bearings and seals, and it also improves the properties of the mated bearings and seals.
Freudenberg has validated the advantages of this new component through extensive testing.
Freudenberg seal with integrated bearing (SWIB) unit.
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.
Freudenberg has developed a new solution to this challenge with the introduction of its seal with integrated bearing (SWIB). The company spent two years developing the technology and has successfully tested it in the sensor housing of an electric power steering (EPS) system installed in an electric-powered vehicle.
The sensor records data, such as 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 N of radial force when a car drives over a curb with its wheels at an extreme angle.
The new integrated solution offers significant improvements compared with separate bearings and seals. The rigidity of the integrated plastic bearing is higher, so 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 -- which is especially important for automated driving. The weight of the overall solution is reduced by as much as 80 percent through integration.
Automotive safety applications are subject to many requirements. Individual manufacturers define some of them according to their own specifications. Freudenberg Sealing Technologies used common specifications -- a temperature resistance of -40 to 125 C under mechanical stress, for example -- to test its integrated component over the course of a year. Extreme cases, such as direct exposure to high water pressure, which can occur in practice during engine washing, were also tested. The seal that includes an integrated bearing proved itself in all tests.
"We can now commence with customer-specific series development at any time," says Freudenberg expert Frank Schönberg.
Want more information? Contact Ulrike Reich, Freudenberg's Head of Media Relations & Internal Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reich can help you reach the correct product expert.
Source: Freudenberg Sealing Technologies
Published July 2020
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