Bearings or Bushings for Wheels: What are the Main Considerations in Selection?

October 21, 2020

Both bearings and bushings can help decrease the friction between two moving parts. Two mechanical parts that can benefit from bearings or bushings are wheels and axles. Wheels and their accompanying axles can optimally work together as long as there are bearings or bushings between them. With the right type of machine element and compatible specifications, wheels on specific equipment or machine will be expected to work properly.

Choosing between bearings or bushings would account for certain elements. To help you out, here are some main considerations in choosing between them and their accompanying specifications.

Bearings Features and Types

With the installation of an effective bearing, it can easily transfer the energy of the load between the wheel and the axle and subsequently minimise overall friction. The motion of the wheel will also be much easier with bearings since their smooth balls or rollers will allow the surface to just roll over each other. These elements of bearings likewise allow the wheel to spin smoothly.

Bearings come in different types, with each type possessing specific load types and speed capacities. Choosing a compatible bearing can effectively increase the durability, efficiency, and performance of both the bearing and the wheel. The following are some of the most common types of bearings.

  • Ball Bearings: Ball bearings use spherical balls as their main rolling element. And with ball bearings’ shape, they can easily spin in any direction, support radial and axial loads, and minimise rotational friction. These bearings are perfect for applications that do not involve heavy loads or impact.
  • Straight Roller Bearings: Straight roller bearings have cylindrical races, which make them great for high-speed applications. They can likewise handle heavier load due to their effective load distribution over a larger surface area.
  • Tapered Roller Bearings: Tapered roller bearings are equipped with rings and rollers that are shaped like truncated cones. This specific shape allows them to support loads all at once. Their load capacity is identified by the axes angle. More axial loads can be supported if they have a greater angle.

Bushings Features and Types

Bushings do not roll. They, however, help with the motion of the wheels by sliding over the rods. This sliding motion allows them to achieve low-friction motion, which can help in shock absorption as the wheels operate. The way bushings function allows them to be utilised in wheels that have high load-bearing tolerances since they can minimise energy usage, noise, and wear. The self-lubricating ability of bushings likewise allows them to be maximised in low-maintenance or maintenance-free operations.

The overall material composition of bushings allows them to be grouped into different types. Some materials can easily withstand corrosion, while others can resist impact and high pressure.

  • Bronze Bushings: Bronze bushings are known for their terrific load carrying capabilities and ability to resist wear and tear. This type of bushings is typically recommended for applications that have high levels of heat. Handling combined loads can likewise be achieved by integrating some flanges.
  • Plastic Bushings: Plastic bushings are known for their lightweight, corrosion-resistance, and minimal maintenance requirement. Application issues with heat sensitivity, softening, and wear are now all resolved with the release of modern plastic bushings.

Three things to consider when choosing between bearings and bushings for your wheels are speed, load capacity, and lubrication. Once you have identified these elements and other factors, then your wheels can easily perform optimally according to your intended specifications.

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