What are Extra Precision Bearings?

January 17, 2019

Mechanical parts fall into one of a handful of categories. At one end of the component spectrum, larger-than-life parts provide accurate movement, but the design gurus focus on kinetic power, not precision. At the loftier end of that scale, smaller, finely fabricated moving pieces are responsible for super-accurate fractional movement. Falling most definitely into that latter category, we introduce extra-precision bearings.

Extra-Precision Rolling Elements

For robot arms and servo motors, for sophisticated mechanical assemblies and advanced manufacturing equipment lines, there’s only one real motion-enabling option available. Clearly, we’re referring to super-precise rolling elements, the ones that provide outstanding guidance power. No matter the velocity or load variances, special race and cage architectures combine with meticulously fabricated annular parts to guarantee the highest possible dimensional tolerances. The ABEC scale (Annular Bearing Engineering Committee) further regulates those dimensional constraints, thus ensuring a perfectly precise product range.

Adding the Architectural Framework

Close-tolerance bearings add definitive architectural elements to their design. In the first type of extra-precision bearings, deep groove raceways provide directional accuracy, which keeps the rolling elements on track. Alternatively, there’s the angular contact family, a range of spinning parts and rolling elements that absolutely maintains a set of preconfigured contact points, which intelligently counteract the thrust and radial load factors that simply cannot be allowed to affect a high-performance bearing application. For aircraft engines, gas turbines, high-precision gearboxes, and for electronically controlled servo motors, such extra-precise instruments are vital system assets.

Fabricating A.B.E.C Acceptable Components

Suffixed with a number, the ABEC codifier gains a higher integer if it’s expected to perform in a sensitive application. For example, an ABEC-1 bearing will deliver fine-grain control on a machine bench tool, but a comparable ABEC-7 bearing would be wasted if it were to be used here. For this super-sensitive rolling element group, its purpose is to deliver ultimate fractional control to the most finitely controllable assemblies. For computer hard drive drums, to quote a small-scale application, or for jet engine turbines, a large-scale application, high number ABEC variants satisfy top-flight dimensional design prerequisites.

Of course, there’s more to the designs than dimensional tolerances. Prestressed and preloaded duplex steels partner with deep groove and angular contact specs to deliver system reliability. Then there are more material factors to consider. Alongside steel and modern ceramics, there are Teflon surfaces to infuse. Keeping the whole package at its high-performing best, there are also advanced cage designs and internal clearances to properly configure. Finally, seal and shield architectures keep out the rare few grains of dirt that could foul up the extra-precise bearing action.

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