The Impact of Contaminants in Bearing Life

Blog | February 7th, 2020

Turbine engines, vehicles, construction equipment, and other types of machinery utilise the use of machine elements. This specific element makes them move and function smoothly without any signs of slowdowns. All the rotation movement on the mentioned types of machinery rely heavily on bearings.

What is the purpose of bearings?

Bearings are vital to the operations of different machines found in automobiles, airplanes, electric generators, and others. They serve as support to the shaft that rotates inside a machine. As the shaft rotates, the bearings will then reduce the friction in a machine. They also prevent the force found between the rotating shaft and the part that supports the rotation from damaging the machine.

Apart from these functionalities, bearings make the rotation smoother. They also maintain the correct position for the rotating shaft, preventing any misalignment whenever the machine is running.

How do contaminants affect bearing life?

As long as the bearing moves and operates in a clean environment, the chance of this element being damaged is relatively low. However, the majority of equipment and machines that use bearings works in various uncontrolled conditions. In fact, most of them are exposed to a lot of dirt, dust, and other types of contaminants.

Contaminants can be anywhere. They are a group of substances that can be toxic and harmful to a certain group of living or nonliving things. Some examples of contaminants are dirt, debris, dust, salts, metals, toxins, and many more.

With bearings, contaminants such as dirt or metallic wear debris affect them significantly. In fact, the exposure of bearings to particle contaminants can dramatically shorten their life. Moreover, if these contaminants have come in contact with the lubricant, the bearings will most likely be damaged from repetitive exposure and interaction with the contaminated lubricant. The damage to the bearings will then affect the whole operation of the machine or equipment.

For you to determine the scale of the impending damage of the bearings, you must know some important parameters first. Some parameters that you must watch out for are contaminant particle size, concentration, hardness, and lubricant film thickness. Apart from lubricant film thickness, the increase in all the other parameters will certainly increase the wear and tear of the bearings.

Contaminated lubricants can trigger a higher initial rate of wear of bearings compared to those that are not running in a clean lubricant. One element that can also affect the life of the bearings is the presence of water. Water can reduce bearing fatigue life since it can enter the micro-cracks in the bearing. Several damaging processes such as corrosion and hydrogen embrittlement will then commence as the water reaches the deep side of the micro cracks.

Contaminants can certainly affect the life of the bearings. Without proper care and maintenance, the bearings and even the machine that is involved may get destroyed even before their intended life span. If you have to replace some bearings right away, you may contact us at Global Bearing Imports so that you can save your equipment as early as now.

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