Different Types of Bearing Materials

Blog | November 10th, 2016

Robust metals and polished ceramics efficiently manage the conflicting stress factors spinning inside bearings. A particular metal absorbs heat and readily dissipates the frictional energy. A separate application dismisses steel and replaces the hardened alloy with ceramic. The hardness rating of the product drops, but the speed of the bearing accelerates. In point of fact, a number of different materials serve unique applications, so what are the best ingredients for these usage domains?

Roll Capable Plastics 

No ordinary plastic can handle the heat and abrasive forces generated by a speeding shaft. A dense UHMW-PE (Ultra-high Molecular Weight Polyethylene) makes for a particularly adept rolling bearing, one that can support moderate loads. Additionally, the material is chemical resistant, self-lubricating, and gifted with a high abrasion rejection rating. Other plastics with these characteristics include nylon and PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), although their mass handling capabilities are bound between the low to moderate end of the loading spectrum.

Chrome Steel 

The application areas covered by polymer-based bearings are still relatively small. They excel in situations where chemicals cause problems, but they’re mostly reserved for moderate duties. Chrome steel bearings, on the other hand, can operate smoothly in heavy-duty machinery. Still, the balls and races require heat treatment and special post-finishing work if they’re to perform smoothly. Also, lubricants and corrosion-resistant gauges are mandated when heavy industrial applications are located in parts-demanding environments.

Hybrid Ceramic Components 

A steel-lined race acts as an armoured runway, although it’s locked in a perpetual circle. Ceramic balls then careen around the steel loop. Super-smooth silver nitride is a ceramic substitute that imbues the balls with high speeds while keeping friction-generated heat low. Considered a niche product by some, there’s no denying the benefits of ceramic balls. Their geometry is smooth, weight is light, and they’re resistant to corrosion.

Tailored Alloys 

In addition to chrome steel, low and high carbon steel competes with other notable alloys for a chance to prove their radial management credentials. Equipped with impressive density ratings, various heat treatment processes work on the iron-based metals to reduce their microcrystalline grain so that they rotate smoothly in their rings. Specialized tempering processes prevent micro welds, eliminate cracks, and harden the balls.

Application-based designs are tough to accommodate. They include speed and loading factors, as well as the environment in which the equipment is running. Finally, various lubricants and seals make up for the shortcomings of many of these bearing materials, so these have to be evaluated before an initial design can be transformed into a working product.

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