NSK Develops World's First Bioplastic Cage for Rolling Bearings

  • Plant-derived material reduces lifecycle CO2 emissions by 91%, contributing to carbon neutral initiatives.
  • Achieved 66% faster development time with new NSK dual-perspective development approach.

NSK Ltd. today announced the development of the world's first 100% bioplastic*1 heat-resistant cage for rolling bearings.

This product addresses the low heat resistance of previous bioplastics, with the new cage able to withstand high operating temperatures of 120℃. By using plant-derived material sources, important Scope 3*2 CO2 emissions are significantly reduced, contributing to the realization of a carbon neutral society.

NSK aims to soon begin shipping the product to automotive and home appliance manufacturers, with end products expected to reach consumers in 2022. Application of the bioplastic cage will be expanded to additional sectors thereafter.

NSK Develops World's First Bioplastic Cage for Rolling Bearings

Background

Protecting the environment is vital to the continued prosperity of societies around the world. To enhance sustainability, industries are striving for carbon neutrality by shifting away from fossil fuel-based plastics and adopting bioplastics and other environmentally friendly materials and technologies.

Conventional bioplastic machine components have suffered from low heat resistance, impeding use under high temperature conditions common in machinery including cars and home appliances.

Product Features

1. Material selection driven by bearing material design technology
Drawing on expertise in materials technology, one of NSK's Four Core Technologies, NSK selected and validated DSM's EcoPaXX® bioplastic as a rolling bearing cage material, including mass production conformance testing.
Sesame plants used for EcoPaXX® material
Sesame plants used for EcoPaXX® material
2. Rapid development achieved through dual-perspective approach
Digital twin simulation was utilized to optimize bioplastic injection molding conditions and to evaluate cage stress characteristics under operating conditions. Accelerated by simulation results, further validation of cage performance during rotation was conducted through real-world testing of physical prototypes. By applying the two perspectives*3 in parallel, cage development time was reduced to one-third of that of the conventional development method.

Product Benefits

Using the bioplastic cage can reduce CO2 emissions by 91% over the product lifecycle compared to conventional cages (polyamide 66). This enables customers to develop carbon neutral end products.

*1: Bioplastics are plastic materials produced from renewable biomass sources (mainly plants).

*2: Scope 3 emissions refer to all indirect emissions across the supply chain, from procurement, delivery, use, and disposal of raw materials and products. This contrasts with Scope 1 emissions, which are the direct emissions from company-owned and controlled resources (offices, plants, etc.).

*3: Dual-Perspective Development: NSK's unique development method that facilitates designing solutions that break through conventional thinking by observing the inner workings of phenomena in detail and understanding their essence through theory, observation, and modeling.

About NSK

NSK began its journey manufacturing the first bearings in Japan in 1916, and has since developed into a global organization researching, designing, and manufacturing Motion & Control™ solutions essential for mobility and industrial applications. NSK is the top supplier of bearings in Japan and is the third largest supplier in the world by market share.

Our responsive products and technologies enhance automotive performance and industrial productivity while reducing energy consumption to unprecedented low levels. In the early 1960s, we set our sights outside Japan and have established over 200 business locations in 30 countries alongside a vast network of joint ventures and partnerships in all corners of the world.

NSK Corporate Philosophy

NSK contributes to a safer, smoother society and helps protect the global environment through its innovative technology integrating Motion & Control. As a truly international enterprise, we are working across national boundaries to improve relationships between people throughout the world.

NSK Vision 2026: Setting the Future in Motion

Contributing to society while growing as a company—NSK will set the future in motion by creating new value beyond the world's expectations.