What are the Different Bearing Lubrication Methods?

November 22, 2020

Bearings are mechanical assemblies that can limit the relative motion to the desired motion through the reduction of friction between moving parts. These assemblies are comprised of rolling elements, inner races, and outer races that make them suitable for rotating or linear shaft applications. 

One vital element that can make bearings work and function effectively is lubrication. Proper bearing lubrication can maintain a stable viscosity over a wide range of temperatures, support load, provide long service life, and provide a protective barrier against contaminants and moisture. Lubrication is also designed to separate parts that are moving relative to one another, allowing the bearings to obtain minimal friction and deterioration. Likewise, lubrication can prevent overheating of the bearing.

Numerous bearing lubrication methods can be utilised in specific applications. 

Grease Lubrication

Grease lubrication is known to be the most common lubrication method for bearings. Grease is normally applied through a piece of special lubrication equipment. This equipment works by applying the grease between the balls and the ball raceway interface. Once the bearing rotates, the grease will be subsequently distributed within the mechanical assembly. It is important to note that a running-in period is required before operating the bearing at full operation so that the grease can settle or escape first into the housing cavity. Optimal application of grease is required to avoid a drastic increase in operating temperatures.

The recommended grease fill amount for small bearings is normally set around 10%. Alternatively, a full fill of grease on the bearing housing is suitable for bearings that will be used for applications with very low speeds. This specific fill percentage is also great for enhanced resistant to contamination and corrosion.

Oil Mist Lubrication

Oil mist is a combination of atomised oil and dry air that is produced by an oil mist system or generator. With oil mist lubrication, the dry air and atomised oil are applied to the bearing housing under a specific amount of pressure. This type of lubrication method can easily provide a flushing action and create an outward flow that can prevent contaminants from coming in. The only issue with oil mist lubrication is that the outward flow of the oil mist can trigger negative environmental effects.

Air-Oil Lubrication

Air-oil lubrication, which is also known as the oil-spot method of lubrication, utilises air and oil combination in providing proper bearing lubrication. This method is widely used for main spindle bearings, allowing them to sustain operations even under high speed. Air-oil lubrication maximises compressed air in moving a particular amount of lubricant directly into the bearing. One thing that makes air-oil lubrication different from oil mist lubrication is that the former does not use atomised air or oil, which then allows it to use higher viscosity oils without increasing its overall usage.

This method of bearing lubrication can easily provide the proper amount of lubricant for individual bearings, has no limitations when it comes to lubricant viscosity and extreme pressure additives, and can minimise health hazards that are present with other lubrication methods.

To know more about these bearing lubrication methods, feel free to contact us at Global Bearing Imports.

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