Understanding Bearings

Bearings can trace their origins back to the royal halls of ancient Egypt. The logs that were used to roll immense stone blocks for the pyramids were some of the earliest bearings. Bearings work against both friction and gravity, for the purpose of increasing machinery speed and efficiency.

When designing or spec-ing in a bearing, the engineer must be at his best. If you’re creating, say, a U-handle, you can err a bit in size and configuration and still have the part perform its function. Not so with bearings: they require precision, or they will do more harm than good to a machine.

You’ll find these durable, high precision components in applications such as computers, VCRs, cars, trains, planes, construction equipment, machine tools, refrigerators and fans.. .wherever there is a requirement for high speed rotation, minimal vibration and noise reduction.

Plain bearings were developed for the automobile industry in the 1920s. Since then, all manner of these useful components have been developed. For example, rod end bearings such as our DIN 648 have an integrated rod that can be used to mount the outer bearing ring. Shown here is the female tapped version; there is also a male version with threaded stem. Various combinations of bearing types can be combined in one housing to manage bearing loads from several directions at once.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s look at how a plain bearing works. Check out our GLRSW Stainless Steel Series K Spherical Plain Bearings for a good example. You have an inner ring and an outer ring, between which may be sandwiched a set of balls, pins or rollers, which are lubricated (the GLRSW uses chrome plated steel ball bearings). One of the rings is fixed, and the other is free to rotate. Some sort of clamping or pressure fit will be used to affix the stationery ring.

The material used for a bearing is key. For its inner ring, our GLRSW uses a special high-strength bronze (CuSn8) with a PTFE liner.

Proper and stable mounting of the bearing are also essential to good performance. Looseness will result in vibration and noise, shock loads relative to speed, and eventually the actual destruction of the bearing and adjacent parts. Meanwhile, seeing as friction always creates heat, wear and tear, lubrication is an essential part of a bearing. Otherwise, once again bearing destruction is the result. The bearings shown on this page have PTFE liners which make them self-lubricating and maintenance-free.

You’ll need to use your engineering expertise when calculating the appropriate bearing for your application, taking into account things like static and dynamic load ratings and limiting speed. Fortunately the bearings we offer have all this information included in the dimensional tables, and you can always consult with our Technical Sales Associates for any additional information you need about our components; just call us at 800-877-8351.

For our selection of bearings, and various components and accessories that work with them, visit our catalog Section 13.

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