A farm machinery application
Equipment manufacturer John Deere was already a convert to the benefits of UHMW-PE. “It’s great material for sliding and wear applications,” said Greg McCunn, materials engineer, plastics and composites, for John Deere. What John Deere needed was someone who could help them use it to make their application — skid plates for the bottom of a combine header – better, faster and more cost effective. The skid plates, or skid shoes, help ease the friction between the ground and the low-hanging parts of the combine’s header platform as it cuts through the field. The skid plates, originally an aftermarket part, were becoming standard equipment. A typical combine might have as many as 50 skids installed.
Global Polymer, using its UHMW molding process, could produce the plates at a better pace than the competition. Where others machined the parts out of single sheets of UHMW, Global Polymer could mold the net shape. “That enabled them to make our parts faster, using the same material,” said McCunn. “They could make it faster at a lower cost. And they could make it better. The molding process allows us to add features.”
Ten years later, and the shoes continue to hold up — and evolve. John Deere has improved the design at least three times. “We have added features and increased the usage and improved the function,” McCunn said. “We’ve continued to improve the design because the material does what we want it do, so we ask it to do more.”
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