REDwire We come bearing gifts: a user’s quick reference guide to bearing types

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The range of bearings is extensive as is the limitless amount of applications they can be used in.

The range of bearings is extensive as is the limitless amount of applications they can be used in.

Simply put, the most common types of bearings include ball (used for small applications that manages thrust or radial loads), roller (handles heavier, radial type loads) and tapered (manages heavier thrust and radial loads at the same time) all of which are made from materials including plastic, rubber and steel.

When talking bearings lingo, keep in mind that bearings include both the ball as the rolling component, as well as the roller component itself.

But, don’t grin and bear it when it comes to drawing a blank on the basics of bearings types. Roll with the punches with this quick reference guide.

Ball bearings

The most common type within the bearing family, ball bearings are found in small scale applications that require the ability to handle both radial and thrust bearing loads.

If you’ve taken a picture with a camera, turned on an electric fan to get a cool breeze, or operated a piece of office equipment, congratulations, you have had the ball bearings experience!

The ball of the bearing is a small sphere that has limited contact with the raceway (or the path) of the object’s surface.

Because a load is transferred from the outer raceway of the sphere, then to the inner raceway, the contact is minimal, which allows for limited load capacity but low friction. The result? Applications that have smoother travels along the surface with little resistance from the ball bearing.

Roller bearings

Roller bearings are next in line when it comes to size and capability to handle large loads.

Since they generally have a larger contact area, roller bearings are equipped to manage applications with heavier radial loads and those requiring greater shock absorbing needs.

Roller bearings are cylindrical in nature, therefore, the contact between the outer and inner raceway of the bearing forms a line, which allows the load to spread out rather than concentrate in an area. 

Roller bearings are widely used in applications such as conveyer belt rollers, paper mill equipment, as well as construction and steel machinery.

Tapered bearings

Heralded as the quintessential staple in the automotive sector, tapered bearings are designed with heavy-duty loads in mind.

Combined inner and outer raceways provide concurrent radial and axial loads ideal for seamless movement because these bearings are mounted in opposing directions to adapt in a multidirectional motion.

Used mainly in industries requiring robust and critical safety applications, including agriculture, mining and locomotion application, tapered bearings carry the weight on their sturdy shoulders to ensure high efficiency consistently and reliably.

Always practice safe ball, roller or tapered bearing use

Lubrication is a vital part of the bearings application process.

Ball and roller bearings benefit from mineral oil based lubricants that include stabilizers that reduce corrosion and enhance lubrication in order to improve its functioning.

Best practice for lubrication of tapered bearings is to use water and temperature resistant solutions to ensure continual, maximum performance.

Let Falpaco Rubber and Plastics warmly welcome you and your business to our more than 20 years of expertise by dropping a note or visiting our website today.


Falpaco Rubber and Plastics Inc.

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