What Are The Most Common Types of Bearings?

October 28, 2015

The general public can be forgiven for believing that the ball bearing is the only bearing in use today. It’s the go-to friction reducer, after all, the prevalent form taken by radial motion mechanics because the arrangement of two circular rails (races) and the smoothly rolling balls sandwiched between these rings is ingeniously efficient. Nevertheless, as functionally adept at eliminating radial friction as ball bearings are, there are instances when other types of bearings find themselves employed. Here’s a list of common types of bearings.

1. Plain Bearings –
Plain in nature, this type of bearing can still outperform its cousins in some situations. Two circular races are evident here, but there are no rolling elements interposed between the two parts. Instead, a film of lubrication enables the two parts to slide past each other without generating heat. The design is generally quieter than other bearing classes, and the reduced profile is handy when assembly space is limited. Self-lubricating materials and dry-running alternative forms also exist.

2. Ball Bearings – Found in every moving piece of machinery where radial motion is employed, ball bearings are the superstars of the friction-cancelling realm. The two races cage a series of lubricated balls, and those spherical rolling elements are made of an ever-varying assortment of metals and composites. The material selection used in the girdle of closely aligned spheres pairs with the omni-directional characteristics of this universal shape to maximize the functionality of the bearing, thus increasing load-bearing properties and the energy-transmitting efficiency of the bearing.

3. Fluid Bearings – Closely related to plain bearings, fluid bearings introduce a layer of oily liquid or gas to the space between the metal races. Hydrostatic force and fluid dynamic action controls the friction management properties of the bearing. Ultimately superior when running at its design velocity, the fluid bearing can experience issues on startup due to a failure to form the initial interposing film. They feature a complex design, one that’s popular due to a cushion of fluid that can support high loads in scenarios where accuracy is essential, but this same complex design can incur greater maintenance costs.

4. Types of Bearings: Common Rolling Element Profiles – A number of additional rolling element outlines exist along with the familiar ball bearing form. The balls stretch and take on the shape of rolling cylinders, the cylindrical bearing, or narrow until the cylinders form skinny pins, a profile that’s referred to as the pin roller bearing. The rolling elements twist, metaphorically, and assume different shapes and angles to cope with shearing forces and heavier loads. The tapered bearing assumes the responsibility of managing angular shafts and eccentric loads.

Although the ball bearing remains king of its domain, other profiles, plain to inordinately complex, exist to endure every conceivable radial loading application.

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