BOWMAN is a company founded in 1974 in Oxford, UK.

They are suppliers of bearing cages and seals for entire bearing assemblies to final customers from bearing distributors. The bearing distributors sell the different segments; mining, agriculture, ships, etc…

Bowman is the 3rd market player for bearing cages. The first two are SKF and SRB.

These two competitors have not adopted 3D printing yet, they are bigger companies than Bowman and thus change is more difficult. Moreover, they have a lot of experience producing the aluminum bearing cages and are improving the design, but getting only 5% more productivity while Bowman is getting up to 40% with plastic parts.

Smaller suppliers might adopt 3D printing as well, but Bowman has several patents to protect their designs


Bowman International offers an unparalleled range of bearings and sintered parts for all applications across all industries. Whether you are working on a large, complex project that requires many bearings of different sizes or a smaller project with standard size bearings they have the right solution. They are able to quote in metric and imperial sizes and have the capability to produce special, one-off sizes especially for your specific project.

Bearings are used in any machine where radial force is required

FINAL PART: Optimization




Originally produced in aluminum, but they had problems because the aluminium was damaging the steel part and it was difficult to assemble/disassemble. PA11 has better wear resistance than aluminium so worked better for these seals. With additive manufacturing they were able to optimize the design and now it is easier to assemble the bearings mechanism. They need to replace the system every 3-5 months which is the life of the bearings, so to have a seal that can facilitate the assembling is a big advantage.

There are currently 60 different standard sizes in the market.

The working temperature is 70-80ºC.

Value proposition of AM for the bearing cages:

  • Design optimization
  • 30-40% load rating increase while increasing
  • also the life of the bearing by 300%

HP 3D HR PA 11

FINAL PART: Optimization



This part allows the bearings to be replaced. It used to be produced in wrapping steel. With PA11 they have less noise and vibration due to better wear resistance compared to steel.

There are currently 10 different standard sizes of bearing cages in the market (from 50-150mm diameter).

Value proposition of 3D printed seals:

  • Cheaper to manufacture
  • Easier to assemble due

HP 3D HR PA 11


They have optimized the design of the bearing cages to improve the radial capacity

Plastic parts are better because it allows you to put more rollers in the bearing because you can create thinner spaces and due that, between rollers. Thanks to this. pressure applied is better distributed, and the life of the product is longer.

With redesign for 3D printing they achieved a 75% parts reduction on the bearing assemblies

With traditional manufacturing the lead time was 12-14 weeks, with 3D printing with HP MJF technology the lead time is 1 week.

In this case, 3D printing is more expensive than traditional manufacturing but has improved the performance and due that, less maintenance is requiredad, and less spare parts are needed. Previous parts produced with aluminum did not have a clip to remove the bearing cage, so they have to roll it in the tube meaning they have to roll all the parts in the pipeline, so they were replacing them all at the same time.


One year ago, Bowman bought the Formiga machine to work with EOS Black PA11 to start their 3D printing production. They had a lot of problems because got a bad batch of material and EOS did not solve the situation to them, so they are really upset with EOS, they did not get good parts for 6months…so they decided to buy an HP MJFmachine

They say the cost per part of SLS is cheaper, but with HP MJF technology, they can produce up to 5-7 times more with the same time. They are expecting high production ramp up in mid-term, so this is one key element to choose HP MJF technology for final parts production.


Tested PA12 and PA11 and decided to go to PA11 because of the higher elongation and the better cosmetics

The elongation is required because the cages and seals have clips

They are dyeing the parts in black for the wear. If not dyed, they could more easily see the black insight the MJF parts when there was wear and then engineers freaked out

Compared to SLS better mech prop because the batch they received produced very fragile parts, better productivity & speed, consistency, reliability of the company

The only barrier they have with PA11 is temperature, but today can target 90% of the bearings they are producing. A higher temperature material open the bearing opportunities but should also have high elongation at break


HP Jet Fusion 3D  300/500 Printers
HP Jet Fusion 3D 4210/4200

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