What are Rod End Bearings?

May 14, 2016

We’ve come quite a ways in our efforts to classify the contrasting shapes and builds of contemporary bearings. There’s been labeling and a concise description of functions to cover, tasks that have documented each mechanical group. Let’s now dutifully assess the functions of rod end bearings, a more exotic rolling element configuration. The central aperture and twin races are gone, replaced by an articulating joint. We now see a rod or stubby shaft attached to a single circular race, but this shaft and race are manufactured as one solid component, leaving the inside of the ring to draw our attention.

Rod End Bearings Articulate 

In describing the rod section, things are straightforward. The shaft is threaded, which obviously defines this section as a static rod, something that’s engineered as a threaded fastening shaft. The threaded rod screws into a hole and is fastened in this manner, leaving the ring of the bearing exposed and ready for application. Meanwhile, it’s inside the ring that the articulating joint, a spherically shaped bearing equipped with a central hole, realises its potential. In looking closer, it’s a little like looking at one of our own eye sockets, the inwardly curving hollows that securely hold a spherical object. The metal sphere and its aperture swivel freely, although the angular coverage of the rotating sphere is not typically wide.

Specialised Applications 

Due to the superior fastening feature and the articulating sphere-to-socket configuration, this type of bearing finds itself installed in many off-road driving assemblies. Four-wheel drive axles use rod end bearings in place of tie-rod ends. Also, steering linkages use this rolling element format, which means the mechanical characteristics of the part have evolved to deal with these contrasting applications. Small as a pinky finger or big enough to fit scores of industrial applications, the different varieties are manufactured from alloy steels, aluminium, and this material diversity is matched by component versatility. Fabricated as two, three, or four-part bearings, the economical form turns inward or outward to create either a female or male outline. Nylon inserts and tube adapters magnify functionality, emphasizing alignment capabilities while guaranteeing the quality of the construct.

Just as shape and application spread outward in large ripples, the naming conventions of this product also focus on a number of alternative forms. They’re known as Heim Joints in the USA and as Rose Joints in the UK, but these naming conventions really only serve to define the bearing as a universal articulating joint, one that serves many precision alignment applications.

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