Most popular types of mechanical bearings

Written by Bruce Hughes on . Posted in Tech


Electricity, smartphones and airplanes are not the only things that make the modern world tick. Even though we don’t give bearings much thought, they perform most functions. Bearings are mechanical devices used to enable machinery to work at high speeds. What they do is allow one part to bear the other. Besides reducing friction, these mechanical components increase production, reduce fire hazards, and save power. Bearings can be found everywhere, from refrigerators to computers. While you don’t even know it, these components are what affect the performance and the noise your household devices. Without them, nothing would function normally. There are many types of bearings, used for different purposes.

Plain bearings

As the name suggests, they are the simplest type of mechanical device, having no rolling elements and operating with a sliding motion between the moving surfaces. Plain elements have a high-load carrying capacity and they are the least expensive option.

Ball bearings

These too are common components. Ball bearings are common because they are able to handle radial and thrust loads. The load is transferred from the outer race to the ball and from the ball to the inner race. You can find the mechanical devices in anything from hard drives to skates. The main drawback is that these components have the tendency to deform when they are overloaded. Ball bearings have been around for quite some time now, used in applications for hundreds of years.

Roller bearings

Mechanical components of this type are especially created to carry heavy loads. They are used in applications such as conveyor belt rollers to handle the large amount of weight. Rolling elements have solid outer rings, solid inner rings, and a cylindrical bore and barrel rollers with cages. What is unfortunate is that these mechanical parts cannot handle thrust loading.

Thrust bearings

These rotary rolling components are mainly used in the automotive industry. They can be useful though for applications that require smooth rotation. Thrust bearings can accommodate loads in the direction of the shaft. The elements are inadequate for supporting moment loads.

As you can clearly, see each bearing has unique features and it is suitable only for certain operations. Choosing the right mechanical component for your application is tricky. There are many things to take into consideration when making a choice, like load, speed of shaft, and nature of the environment. It is thus advisable to get the opinion of a specialist.