The 3 Key Variables that Affects Bearing Life

June 29, 2020

A bearing is a machine element that plays a crucial role in various mechanical devices. This specific machine element is intended to make components move to the desired motion smoothly and effectively without generating too much friction. Normally, the only movement possible for bearings is rolling as it produces a lower coefficient of friction compared to the sliding movement.

Automotive, construction, food and beverage, and power industries utilise bearings as part of their machines, engines, and other types of moving products. These industries believe that the movement of bearings allows them to save a significant amount of money since any signs of wear and tear are reduced dramatically. However, there are still some variables that can truly affect the service life of the bearings. Here are 3 key variables that significantly affect bearing life.


One of the most common variables that can affect bearing life is the temperature of the environment. And if you want a bearing that can tolerate high-temperature environments, then you should select appropriate bearing material and lubrication.

In producing common ball and roller bearings, manufacturers often maximise 52100 chrome steel, which is a material that can withstand environments with about 125° Celsius temperature. As for environments with over 350° Celsius of temperature, manufacturers then select heat-stabilised materials for more durable bearing products. As for lubrication, standard-bearing greases can only operate in an environment with up to 175° Celsius temperature. A high-temperature grease or oil, on the other hand, would still work with environments that have a temperature of over 285° Celsius.

Water and Chemicals

The presence of water, chemicals, and other corrosive materials can also affect the service life of bearings. Food processing plants use several pieces of equipment in applications that have high-pressure water. Irrigation systems, on the other hand, have certain types of machinery that are frequently exposed to water and fertilizers. Even the construction industry utilises equipment and devices that are used underground, an environment that is full of water.

Industries that are previously mentioned maximise the use of bearings and lubricants. These bearings are often made from stainless steel to combat the effects of corrosion. However, the use of nitrogen-enhanced martensitic stainless steel or even ceramic for fabricating bearings and rolling elements can significantly improve their corrosive resistance.


Vacuum environments do not have heat conduction, making it difficult for bearings to function well. Additionally, the grease for lubrication can easily evaporate and diffuse when the temperature limits have exceeded. Therefore, bearings must be made from materials that can withstand such conditions.

Researchers often test certain mechanical devices and equipment that will be used in space in vacuum environments. These environments, which require impact retainers and lubricants, must have lubricants made from gold, silver, molybdenum disulphide, and polytetrafluoroethylene. Additionally, retainer materials must be made from austenitic stainless steel AISI 304 cages so that they can effectively minimise torque between the cage and the rolling element.

When choosing bearings for your specific application, you must consider these variables for you to save a significant amount of money. If you need some help in choosing the best bearings for your industry, then turn to us now at Global Bearings Imports.

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