The bearing in its current form was developed towards the end of the 19th century. It was initially made by hand.
Nowadays, bearings are one of the most commonly used machine parts because their rolling motion make almost all movements easier and they help reduce friction.
Bearings have two key functions:
Rolling bearings and sleeve bearings
In a sleeve or plain bearing, the axle and the bearing move in opposite directions on a sliding surface. By contrast, the two components of a rolling bearing that move towards one another – the inner and outer rings – are separated by rolling elements. This design generates significantly less friction than a sleeve bearing.
Radial bearings and axial bearings
Bearings can transmit loads in a radial direction or an axial direction (thrust) and in many cases there is a combination of both radial and axial loads to transmit.
Bearings usually consist of the following components:
The inner and outer ring are usually made from a special high-purity, chrome alloy steel. This material has the necessary hardness and purity – both important factors for a high load rating and a long service life.
Technical Insight - Bearing Life
The raceways are hardened, ground and honed.
Special materials such as ceramic and plastics are also used. Although plastics cannot withstand extremely high temperatures, they are considerably lighter than steel. This makes them invaluable in sectors such as the automotive industry, where every gram matters.
Technical Insight - Materials for Bearings
The rolling elements roll on the specially formed raceways of the rings or discs and are kept apart and guided by the cage.
Our e-learning platform offers valuable online tools, tutorials, and courses on a variety of topics – from basic bearing knowledge, to troubleshooting, to solutions for challenging environments.
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