NSK Launches Lineup of Bearings with World’s First Bioplastic Cage


Following development of the world’s first 100% bioplastic*1 heat-resistant cage, NSK Ltd. has completed development of a lineup of bearings adopting the environmentally friendly cage.

Moving forward NSK will continue to expand use of bioplastics in products with a view to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to creating a carbon neutral society. Compared to conventional plastics made from fossil fuels, use of bioplastics contributes to reducing CO2 emissions. NSK aims to achieve 800 million yen in sales for this product in 2024.

Bearing with bioplastic cage configured for use in fan motors in air conditioners. Sales of air conditioners are expected to increase due to the growing number of middle-income earners in emerging economies and rising demand for replacement air conditioners with advanced features such as ventilation due to the global pandemic.

Bearings are a key component in the fan motors of air conditioners that pump air into the room. By utilizing environmentally friendly bioplastic cages in these bearings, NSK aims to contribute to the realization of a carbon neutral society.

This represents the world’s first 100% bioplastic cage brought to mass market for air conditioner fan motors. Developed using NSK’s digital twin technology to swiftly bring the product to market with an advanced development cycle.

Using digital twin analysis, we were able to evaluate dimensions, shape and deformation, molding defect and errors, and strength to produce a prototype cage of equivalent quality to a conventional cage in a short period of time.

In addition to high reliability, bearings for air conditioner fan motors are required to be quiet and have low friction. Functional evaluation tests of noise level and friction confirmed that bearings with the bioplastic cage have equivalent performance to conventional plastic cages (see figures below). This determined that it is possible to replace conventional cages with bioplastic cages for bearings in fan motors in air conditioners.

Compared to steel cages, plastic cages are lighter, achieve lower friction, and can be designed and manufactured in more advanced, complex shapes. These benefits have led to widespread adoption of plastic cages in small size bearings. NSK’s bioplastic cage bearings enable these benefits while additionally contributing to realizing a carbon neutral society.



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