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.
Both designs are available as ball bearings or roller bearings. The choice of bearing design depends upon the application in question.
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.
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.
The rolling elements roll on the specially formed raceways of the rings or discs and are kept apart and guided by the cage.
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