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What types of bearings are on the market?

  • February 10, 2024
Reading Time: 10 minutes
bearings market

Bearings facilitate mechanical movement by reducing friction. From roller bearings to ball bearings, the market offers a wide range. What are the types of bearing on the market and why should you choose one? 

Types of bearings 

Bearings are used in many industrial, automotive and mechanical applications, allowing relative movement between parts while minimising friction. There are a wide variety of bearing types, each adapted to specific conditions.

Introduction and importance of bearings 

Bearings, fundamental components in mechanical engineering, minimise friction between moving surfaces. An introduction to these often overlooked but useful devices is imperative if we are to understand their importance in the smooth running of industrial machinery. By reducing frictional resistance, bearings promote smooth movement, resulting in increased operational efficiency and extended equipment life. Their usefulness extends beyond simply reducing friction, encompassing the transmission of loads, the management of axial and radial stresses, and the facilitation of linear motion. 

Overview of bearing types 

Roller bearings include various variations, such as cylindrical, spherical, tapered and needle roller bearings. Cylindrical bearings are suitable for radial loads, spherical bearings offer flexibility against misalignment, tapered bearings are ideal for combined loads, and needle roller bearings are suitable for confined spaces with high radial loads.

On the other hand, ball bearings are subdivided into deep groove, angular contact and thrust types. Deep groove bearings are preferred for radial loads, angular contact bearings are suitable for axial loads, and thrust bearings are specifically designed to support significant axial loads. 

Linear guide system bearings market

Other types  

In addition to roller and ball bearings, other specialised types complete the range of mechanical solutions. Cam followers, for example, are components that provide precise tracking of linear movements, particularly useful in mechanisms requiring regular, repetitive movements.

Plummer block bearings offer stability under specific conditions, often used in demanding environments where resistance to vibration and shock is very useful. They are designed to support radial and axial loads while maintaining structural stability.

Plain bearings, also known as sliding bearings, are characterised by the absence of rolling elements. They provide a smooth contact surface between moving parts, thereby reducing friction. These bearings are used in applications requiring minimum friction and high durability.

Features and benefits 

Roller bearings are robust and suitable for radial loads, offering advantages for specific applications. Ball bearings offer low friction and high speed, while specialised types, such as cam followers, meet specific needs. 

Roller bearings

Roller bearings, whether cylindrical, spherical, tapered or needle roller, share common characteristics. Their robust construction makes them suitable for high radial loads, while the variety of shapes meets specific requirements. Cylindrical bearings are used in electric motors, spherical bearings in applications where misalignment is frequent, conical bearings in gears, and needle roller bearings in confined spaces. Their main advantage is their ability to support heavy loads, but they can be more sensitive to vibration and shock than ball bearings.

Ball bearings

Ball bearings, including deep groove, angular contact and thrust types, offer an alternative with distinct characteristics. Deep groove bearings are suitable for radial loads, angular contact bearings for axial loads and thrust bearings for high axial loads. Their compact design makes them suitable for confined spaces. Advantages include low friction, high speed and long life. However, they may be less suitable for heavy loads than roller bearings.

Other bearings

Specialist bearings, such as cam followers, plummer blocks and plain bearings, have unique features. Cam followers provide precise tracking of linear movements, finding application in automated systems. Plummer block bearings offer stability in harsh environments and are resistant to vibration. Plain bearings, with no rolling elements, reduce friction for wear-free performance.

Overall, roller bearings are distinguished by their ability to support high loads, ball bearings by their low friction and high speed, and specialised bearings by their adaptation to specific conditions.

Choosing a bearing type 

The choice of bearing type is a key stage in mechanical design, having a direct impact on the performance and durability of a system. Several considerations must guide this decision.

Selection considerations

When selecting a bearing type, several considerations must guide the decision to ensure optimum performance. Load capacity and direction are key criteria. Roller bearings are suitable for radial loads, when the force is exerted perpendicular to the bearing axis. Conversely, ball bearings are more effective at supporting axial loads.

Speed of rotation and operating conditions are also key factors. Ball bearings, thanks to their low friction, are suitable for applications requiring high speeds, while environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity and the presence of contaminants, can influence the choice in favour of bearings resistant to external aggression.

Initial cost and maintenance requirements are key financial considerations. Some bearings require regular maintenance, while others offer extended life with minimal maintenance, directly impacting operational costs.

The specific requirements of the application play a major role. Cam followers may be required for precise linear movements, while plain bearings may be preferred in applications requiring minimal friction.

Comparison based on selection criteria 

Comparing bearing types on the basis of key selection criteria is imperative to choosing the optimum solution. When assessing load capacity, roller bearings excel at radial loads, while ball bearings are better suited to axial loads. For applications requiring high speeds, ball bearings offer low friction. Harsh environments require heavy-duty bearings, such as plain or plummer blocks. In terms of cost, ball bearings can be more economical initially, although roller bearings can offer an extended service life. Specific application requirements, such as precise linear movements, may necessitate the use of specialist bearings such as cam followers.

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