Bearings are tools that allow for relative motion between objects that reduce the amount of friction between components in a system, which allows for heavier objects to be moved with less effort. They provide smooth movement of parts or whole pieces of equipment; without these components, parts would wear out quicker and would require frequent maintenance or replacement.
Quick links to Ball Bearings Information
History of Ball Bearings
It is possible to trace the use of bearings as far back as ancient times, when Egyptian pyramids were built using logs as roller bearings to transport the heavy stones over long distances. It was after the twentieth century that it has been best known and documented of the numerous forms of bearings.
In modern days, bearings are still capable of carrying massive loads, but they do so with more refined techniques and advanced materials expanding the application of ball bearings. Such bearings still provide a challenging field for continued research and development in explaining the operating aspects of bearings that have served so effectively for almost a century.
Designing Ball Bearings
- The Size and Shape of a Bearing
- Today's bearings usually have an outer diameter of a few inches and use approximately a dozen balls to provide smooth motion. Despite their comparatively small size, these bearings are consistently able to handle large loads while spinning at high speeds. The interiors of the rings are engineered and then machined very precisely to achieve a uniform and consistent raceway for the balls. The balls are also carefully constructed; they pass through a stamping machine that creates identical balls. If even one ball is lopsided, the load capabilities and speed of the bearing and the larger system will be reduced.
- Ball bearing manufacturers, and providers of ball bearings, offer a range of bearing sizes and dimensions, beginning with all smallest miniature bearings and ending with bearings as large as tens of feet in diameter. They can be spherical, cylindrical, needle-shaped, tapered, and many other shapes. Specific design allow Miniature Bearings Manufacturers Suppliers for certain bearings to handle differing proportions of each load type based on the bearing’s intended application.
- Material Used for Ball Bearings
- Besides the direction of the loads, bearings also vary by materials including stainless steel, chrome steel, carbon chrome steel, ceramics such as silicon nitride, and other materials. Steel and ceramic are chosen for their many benefits and their composition has been adjusted through the use of alloys and other additives in order to maximize the advantageous characteristics.
- Steel ball bearings are the most common kind. They are strong, durable and corrosion resistant. Commercial, private, and military aircraft that include pulleys use tool steel, carbon steel, stainless steel, silicon nitride (ceramic) and titanium carbide-coated. Ceramic bearings, however, have a lower rate of thermal expansion and are generally more heat resistant than steel. Because ceramic is a less dense material, these bearings create less friction. Combinations of ceramic and steel are widely available to maximize the benefits of both materials.
Ball Bearings Types
- Angular Contact Bearings
- A type of radial bearing that is designed so that one shoulder of the rings is higher than the other, creating a contact angle between the races and the balls.
- Automotive Bearings
- Used for a wide range of automotive purposes.
- ABEC Bearings
- Also sometimes called precision bearings and are rated on a scale from one to nine based on precision standards.
- Ceramic Ball Bearings
- Made of ceramic instead of steel; some of these bearings use both materials.
- Counterbored Ball Bearings
- Counterbored ball bearings have one race shoulder turned and ground away to facilitate an assembly with a greater number of balls.
- Deep Groove Bearings
- The most common type of radial bearing.
- Linear Bearings
- Used to move objects in a single axis.
- Maximum Capacity Bearings
- Allow for more balls to be loaded into the bearing using the filling notches.
- Miniature Bearings
- Smaller bearings with bores of ten millimeters or less.
- Pillow Block Bearings
- Contain an enclosed ball bearing within a mountable enclosure.
- Precision Bearings
- Composed of materials that are subjected to severe stress reversals.
- Radial Ball Bearings
- Move in both directions and can handle large loads.
- Roller Bearings
- Use cylindrical rollers instead of balls to carry heavier loads than standard bearings.
- Sealed Bearings
- Have rubber sides that seal out contaminants such as dust, oil or moisture.
- Self-Aligning Bearings
- Consist of two rows of balls and a spherical raceway in the outer ring that work to minimize misalignment.
- Skate Bearings
- Use balls as the rolling element and are used for inline skates and skateboards.
- Steel Ball Bearings
- Made of steel materials and are the strongest kind of bearings available.
- Thrust Bearings
- Bearings that bear axial loads.
Applying Ball Bearings
Most bearings are capable of handling both thrust and radial loads. There are many kinds of bearings; just a few examples include angular contact bearings, deep groove ball bearings, automotive bearings, precision ball bearings, sealed bearings, shield bearings, pillow block bearings, roller bearings and many other varieties.
Ball bearings are extremely useful and are used in many applications. They use rolling spherical elements to facilitate smooth radial or axial motion within a system. In comparing other rolling element bearings to ball bearings, ball bearings have a lower load-carrying capacity due to the smaller contact area between balls and races. The use of ball bearings is common in many industrial and commercial settings, such as assembly lines and as part of a conveyor belt system. For example, automotive bearings are used in many assemblies and parts found in vehicles, including suspension bearings and wheel clutches.
Self-aligning ball bearings have a spherical raceway for the outer ring which contains a smaller angular misalignment caused by improper mounting. This type of bearing was used in textile factories for very long shafts such as transmission shafts.
Industrial and commercial loading and movable retail store displays use flange mounted ball transfers. This type works because the unit has a two-hole flange base designed which makes it easy for mounting. A hardened ball cup and sealed protective cover permit low torque and long life which can be utilized ball up or ball down.
Standards and Specifications for Ball Bearings
Manufacturers of ball bearings must specify many critical factors including dimensional tolerances, load handling capabilities, materials, precision, the degree of ball and raceway polishing, vibration, noise, and lubricant. The ABEC scale was designed by the Annular Bearing Engineering Committee (ABEC) of the American Bearing Manufacturers Association (ABMA) to provide bearing manufacturers specific classes for the dimensional specifications. The scale also works as a guide for consumers since they might not know factors related to performance, materials, and manufacturing.
The ABEC Scale is made up of five classes (ABEC 1, 3, 5, 7, 9). The higher ABEC classes provide better precision, efficiency, and the possibility of greater speed. Precision applications such as aircraft or surgical equipment require higher rated bearing. The majority of applications used for vehicles, mechanical hobbies, skates, skateboards, fishing reels and industrial machinery rely on lower graded classifications.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Bearings
- Bearings and Compliance
- Depending on the developments in the transport and manufacturing markets, the ball bearing manufacturing industry will vary. The export markets that generate a large share of revenue, as well as metal prices, will influence the selling prices. Selling prices will rise helping operators due to slowly recovering metal prices. The most important factors for the Ball Bearing Manufacturing Industry include effective quality control, access to high-quality inputs, and having a loyal customer base.
- Ball Bearing Manufacturers and Companies
- IQS Directory provides a detailed list of ball bearing manufacturers and suppliers. Find ball bearing companies that can design, engineer, and manufacture ball bearings to your specifications. Peruse our website to review and discover top ball bearing manufacturers with roll over ads and complete product descriptions. Connect with the ball bearing companies through our hassle-free and efficient request for quote form. You are provided company profiles, website links, locations, phone numbers, product videos, and product information. Read reviews and stay informed with product news articles. Whether you are looking for manufacturers of ball bearing suppliers of every type, IQS is the premier source for you.
Proper Care for Ball Bearings
When ball bearings are assembled, they are lubricated and packed in a clean environment to avoid contamination which may inhibit the performance of the bearings. They should be handled with care. Improper handling procedures and areas result in a high percentage of bearing problems and failures.
A few procedural guidelines to consider:
- Bearing handling rooms should be kept as clean as possible.
- Bearings should be kept in their packaging until ready for use.
- To prevent particle accumulation, containers and lids should be kept closed and cleaned every day.
- Never use a bearing that has been dropped.
- Before applying adhesive to a bearing, use a clean cloth dampened with an alcohol agent. Be careful not to saturate the cloth excessively with the cleaning agent because the liquid could leak into the bearing and carry particles with it.
- Contamination might inadvertently be transferred into the bearing when applying lubricant or using fibrous applicators such as a cotton swab.
- Airborne contaminants include dust, dirt, and humidity found in outside air, therefore bearings should not be exposed to outside air.
Ball Bearings Terms
- Where the bearing is mounted; it is an imaginary line that runs through the center of the shaft.
- Ball Cage
- Device used to space the balls. The cage partly surrounds the balls and moves with them.
- Ball Pocket
- Container that holds the balls in place.
- The smallest dimension when referring to the separator, inner ring or outer ring of a ball bearing.
- A mechanical component that facilitates the movement of two objects relative to each other.
- Inner ring of tapered roller bearing.
- Contact Angle
- Formed by a line drawn between the areas of ball and ring contact and a line perpendicular to the bearing axis.
- Dynamic Load
- A load placed on a bearing that is in motion.
- A breakdown of a bearing after sustained use.
- The amount of internal clearance in a bearing. This can also refer to shaft and housing size and how they relate to the bore or outside diameter.
- Floating Bearing
- Bearing that is able to move in one or two directions.
- Inner Ring
- The innermost part of a bearing, which fits on a shaft and contains the external raceway for the rolling elements. Occasionally the shaft is immobile and the housing rotates.
- Lock Nut
- A nut used in tandem with a lock washer to hold a bearing in place on a shaft.
- A usually oil based liquid, which provides cooling, reduces friction and resists contamination and corrosion for ball bearings and related components.
- Magnetic Bearing
- Separates similar surfaces by use of a magnetic field.
- Outer Ring
- Portion of the bearing that contains the internal raceway for the balls.
- The ball or roller path cut in the inner and outer ring in which the balls or rollers move. Sometimes referred to as a guide path.
- A soft synthetic rubber washer with a steel core fixed in the outer ring (in the seal groove) in contact with the inner ring to retain lubricant and keep out contamination (hydraulic seals).
- A thin metal plate or washer used to pack or pre-load a bearing.
- Used to separate or space bearings on the same or different rows in areas where multiple ball bearings are used, such as in assembly lines.
- Static Load
- A load exerted on a bearing not in motion.