Bearings are a common component to assemblies with moving parts, facilitating motion while minimizing the amount of friction generated between surfaces. Bearings may come in many forms to accommodate varying applications, popular types including the plain bearing, ball bearing, and roller bearing. As each type may vary by its design, load capacities, speeds, and more, it is very important that the correct bearing is implemented within a system to avoid costly failures or downtimes. In this blog, we will discuss some of the main considerations that should be made when deciding between bearings, allowing you to narrow down your search with ease.
When first initiating the search for the right bearing, one should consider the space and size restrictions of the assembly in question. Oftentimes, a bearing will feature a shaft diameter or bearing bore diameter that is set to design requirements, ensuring proper functionality as intended. As such, the bearing’s dimensions should accommodate the space restrictions of the assembly while retaining the needed performance specifications to optimally function.
After size, one may consider the types of loads that will need to be beared, as well as the strength of such forces. Having the ability to take on the loads of a particular application is paramount for operations, affecting the ongoing performance of a bearing over time. Some bearings may be designed for handling radial loads, those of which act perpendicularly to the axis of rotation. Axial loads, meanwhile, are a load that acts parallel to the axis of rotation. By offsetting either radial or axial loads, a moment load may be generated. Alongside such loads, bearings may also require the ability to withstand vibration and shock loads depending upon the application.
The next major consideration to make is in regard to precision. While the bearing of a bicycle may not be upheld to rigorous precision requirements, those within aerospace applications or medical systems might. Precision is generally affected by misalignment, that of which may result from mistakes in the manufacturing process, varying housing types, or flex conditions. If the misalignment grows to a point where the bearing is unable to handle such issues, a failure may occur. If misalignment is a concern, there are some bearing unit types such as the ball bearing which are capable of correcting their own alignment.
While precision and the load capacity of a bearing are both important for its ability to perform well in an application, so too is its operating speed capabilities. All bearings are designed with specific speed limitations that have been found through consistent testing across various applications and settings. Speed limitations may be determined by a number of factors, including those such as bearing size, lubrication, load type, and temperature. Lubrication often has a major effect on speed capabilities, and one should always ensure that the right type is used for the bearing installed. Typically, the roller bearing and ball bearing types are both optimal choices for high-speed applications.
The durability of a bearing can affect its longevity, and rigidity and temperature tolerances are two important factors. A bearing’s rigidity will often determine its ability to resist deformation under heavy loads, ensuring that failure is avoided. Meanwhile, extremely hot or cold temperatures can quickly cause failure if the bearing is not suitable, thus one should always check operating temperature ranges as specified by the manufacturer prior to making a purchase decision.
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