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Intelligent 3D-printed wear-resistant parts

A sliding element made of the wear-resistant material iglidur I150 with a printed sensor. The load on the component and its overloading can be measured.

Integrated sensors indicate maintenance and issue warning before critical wear occurs

The engineers in the igus 3D printing team have now achieved a further great step: sensors are printed into the tribo component via . Long before the failure, it signals that a replacement is imminent. Furthermore it is possible to detect an overload so as to initiate an immediate machine stop and thus prevent further damage to the bearing point and the entire machine. This enables predictive maintenance for special parts as well, with the result that machine downtime and maintenance work can be reduced. Due to additive manufacturing, such intelligent 3D isense components can now be delivered in a cost-effective way from five business days.
3D isense is suitable for the manufacture of intelligent plain bearings, sliding elements, lead screw nuts and all other special parts that are susceptible to friction and wear.

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3D printing isense - intelligent and wear-resistant

Tech up

Tech up

  • Wear-resistant parts with sensors using multi-material 3D printing
  • Warning when wear limit is reached
  • Warning before overload occurs ► Avoid damage
  • Predictable service life

Cost down

Cost down

  • No minimum order quantity, no tool costs
  • Ready to ship in only 3 working days or more (upon request)
  • No unplanned downtime
  • Reduce failure costs



  • Tested in the igus test laboratory
  • Try it out in your own application in order to see for yourself; igus is offering free samples of 3D isense components in the beta test phase.




igus has been developing intelligent wear-resistant parts since 2016, and is by now using them in energy chains, plain bearings and linear guides. When designing these wear sensors, our developers have been using the igus 3D printing service for wear-resistant parts.
That way, special gliders have been manufactured via laser sintering and made of iglidur I3; the intelligence was incorporated afterwards in a second process step.
This has lead to the intelligent special parts being very complex and cost-intensive when produced in small numbers, as the downstream work steps are very specific and tailored to the individual component. The 3D printing developers accepted this challenge and came up with a procedure for producing such intelligent wear-resistant parts in one work step via 3D printing. Now, as no further processing steps are necessary, intelligent special wear-resistant parts can be manufactured cost-efficiently from five working days on.

igus 3D printing team igus engineers work on researching and developing materials and procedures for developing intelligent 3D printing components.
3D printing with sensors Due to 3D printing, wear-resistant can be designed according to your wishes and made intelligent

Function explained

During printing, the sensor layer is applied to those parts of the component that will be subjected to load. When in use, the electrical resistance of the sensor material is measured continually so that a warning is issued before overloading or before the wear limit is reached.
Based on the procedure for multi-material printing, wear-resistant parts with integrated sensor layers are developed. The components are made from the wear-resistant filaments iglidur I150 or iglidur I180 and a specifically developed electrically conductive 3D printing material that sticks well to the tribofilament.
Currently, there are two application areas:
► Warning before overload occurs: The electrically conductive material is situated between the wearing layers. If the load changes, the resistance also changes. To determine the load limits, the bearing has to be calibrated correspondingly. 
► Reaching of the wear limit: the conducting path is located in the gliding surface, the wear is measured via the der change of the resistance.  
Become a beta tester and try 3D isense for free: we are offering ten selected customers the opportunity of free samples with intelligent special parts.  

Send us your project and become a beta tester

Further smart plastics® solutions in the igus range of products

Why 3D printing at igus?

Our additive manufacturing is based on 5 decades of expertise in the industrial manufacture of wear-resistant components made of self-lubricating high-performance polymers for innumerable customers all over the world. With the compounds specially developed for 3D printing, it is now possible to manufacture prototypes, special parts and small volumes quickly and without tool costs.  iglidur filaments and SLS powder are many times more wear-resistant than regular 3D printing materials - they are on the same level as iglidur plain bearings made with the injection moulding method. This illustrates their suitability for industrial use as long-lasting function-performing parts.
In addition to diversely usable materials with tribological properties, we supply special solutions with FDA-compliance, ESD protection and fire retardance as well as advanced manufacturing technologies such as multi-material printing and 3D printing with incorporated sensors for predictive maintenance. Our materials can be purchased in the online shop for independent further processing or components can be ordered through our online 3D printing service with just a few clicks of the mouse by means of a STEP file. The goods are usually delivered within 1 to 3 days.  
The iglidur 3D printing polymers are thoroughly tested in the in-house igus test lab with regard to wear and friction, as a result of which the service life of igus 3D printed components, e.g. in the form of gears or plain bearings, can be calculated online in advance. In addition to special polymers, we provide a specialist consultation service, , learning and further-training material, as well as free samples of our materials and the components made from them.


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