What Are Ball Bearings?

Bearings are common machine elements that are present within countless systems and assemblies, facilitating motion for the means of reducing the friction generated between moving parts. Ball bearings in particular are a type of rolling-element bearing, taking advantage of balls placed between bearing races to further their rotational friction mitigation. In this blog, we will discuss the functionality and design of ball bearings, allowing you to best understand how and why they are used within various applications and settings.

With the configuration of a ball bearing set, such components may support the radial and axial loads of an assembly while preventing damage caused by friction. In order to carry out such tasks, the ball bearing transfers all loads through the balls. Generally, one of the two bearing races is designed to be stationary while the other is connected to the hub or shaft of the rotating assembly. This causes the connected race to rotate along with the assembly, subsequently resulting in the movement of the balls as well. With the rolling of the ball elements, the coefficient of friction is lower as compared to an assembly where the two surfaces are fully pressed against one another during sliding motions.Depending upon the particular requirements of a given application, there are a few common ball bearing designs that may be chosen from. Angular ball bearings take advantage of axially asymmetric races, allowing for an axial load to transfer through the bearing in a straight line. When radial loads are applied, such forces follow an oblique path that axially separates races so that the inner race angle of a contact matches the outer race. Serving combined loads, such ball bearing sets are optimal for reducing centrifugal force while performing in high temperature environments.

Deep-groove ball bearing radial types feature race dimensions that are similar to the ball dimensions, and their groove permits higher loads. While similar to angular contact bearings in their capability to support both radial and axial loads, such component types do not permit a choice of contact angle. Shallow groove bearings may be an alternative option, though such components are unable to support as high of loads.

Preloaded pairs are bearings where two individual bearings are fastened together along a rotating shaft, making them face one another. With this assembly, the bearings can increase their axial runout and more evenly distribute loads to a degree that is much higher than a lone bearing. When combining angular load bearings, such components are placed in opposite directions as their asymmetric design only allows for axial loads to be supported in a single direction. When establishing such pairs, care should be taken during the preload assembly process so that parts are not damaged or lose their axial force capacity. While preloaded pairs may be created simply by placing bearings in a fashion that they face one another directly, they may also be separated with the use of a shim, bushing, or shaft.

When choosing between various types of ball bearings or general bearing variations, it is important to make certain considerations so that the right fit may be found. One major constriction of bearings are their size, and it is important that there is sufficient installation space and clearances for the ball bearing. Additionally, load magnitude, type, and direction will have a great effect on the health of certain bearings, alongside rotational speed. With such factors, one should also consider mounting and dismounting requirements, rigidity, construction materials, and lubrication for the means of accommodating all the specifications and requirements of a particular application.

If you find yourself in need of ball bearings for assembling machinery or for maintaining existing systems, Cogent Sourcing has you covered with our expansive inventory of new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find items that come from a variety of leading global manufacturers that we trust. Take the time to explore our expansive offerings at your leisure, and all listed items are readily available for purchase at any time. If you would like a quote on items for your comparisons, we invite you to fill out and submit an Instant RFQ form as provided on our website. With team members readily available for customers 24/7x365, customers may receive responses to their requests in just 15 minutes or less.


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