Chrome Steel and Stainless Steel Flanged Bearing Material Differences

August 14, 2017

Flanged bearings are readily identifiable mechanical components. Unlike their plain bearing cousins, flanged devices aid the mounting of problematic radial components, such as high-vibration drive parts. Typically fastened inside a mounted housing or a pillow block, we’ve decided to look beyond this outer form and assess the material differences between chrome steel and stainless steel flanged bearings. Just what effects do these materials have on collared bearing performance?

Unique Loading Characteristics 

Locked down by fasteners or shrink fitted, flange bearings employ their extended collars as an axial thrust handling mechanism. Essentially, there’s nowhere for the component to go when the vibration-heavy drive rod bears down, so the surface-locked unit handles that axial “push” while delivering optimized rotational lubricity to that torque-driven shaft. In order to reinforce this action, design engineers offset the loading factor by employing chrome steel and stainless steel, alloys that won’t crumble when the thrust creates unbearable mechanical stress.

Chrome Steel vs. Stainless Steel 

Ideally, chrome steel components are the standardized flanged bearing load carrying alloy. This ferrous composite uses chromium to imbue the rolling elements with a fine-grained, temperature proficient structure. When the axial stress associated with these mounted bearings is exerted, the anti-fracture feature built into the chrome steel parts is emphasized. Conversely, at least when we’re talking about traditionally heat-treated stainless steel bearings, these devices are not capable load carriers, not when compared to type 52100 chrome steel. Additionally, the applications where flanged bearings really excel tend to be ones that require precision movement. Standard heat-treated stainless steel bearings are formed from coarser grained materials, so devices made from this alloy are noisier.

Heat-Treatment Management Issues 

When carbon is added to stainless steel bearings, the alloy gains a superior noise feature, but there are drawbacks to this additive strategy. Primarily, the accumulation of carbon makes the stainless steel magnetic and more susceptible to fractures. In other words, while fatigue life is extended when stainless steel bearings are installed, there’s a question over operation life when the device works in a vibration heavy setting.

Finally, chrome bearings are designed to operate in environments that reach 120°C. As for their stainless steel competitors, these devices are built to work in heat stressed temperatures that exceed 250°C. Still, that thermal disparity gap can be levelled by passing the chrome variants through a secondary heat-treatment cycle until the metal is equipped to withstand 220°C of operational heat. When this thermal handling feature is partnered with a fine grained microstructure, it’s hard to deny the place of low noise, cost-effective chrome steel bearings as the ideal material for flanged bearings.


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