SKF and VBN Components, which makes materials for additive manufacturing (AM), have partnered to research using hard and wear resistant steels to 3D print large bearings.

Up till now, VBN’s Vibenite alloys for AM have mainly been used for aerospace and racing.

According to the companies, 3D printed bearings could be lighter than their traditionally manufactured counterparts, improving their performance under demanding conditions and weight optimization of machinery.

Since additive manufacturing makes it easy to produce components from very hard materials, material consumption can in specific applications be reduced by 80–90%, VBN said.

In tests with SKF, Vibenite materials have provided improved rolling fatigue resistance due to their purity, hardness, and fine microstructure.