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Bearings are an important element for many machines, as they reduce friction between two objects, allowing moving parts to move more smoothly. Bearings are divided into two basic categories, radial and axial bearings. Radials are on rotating shafts and thrust supports axial loads. Of course, there are several different bearings available within these two categories. They include:

  • Pull apart

  • Ball

  • Roller

  • Assembled and disassembled

  • Flange

There really are so many different varieties. Ball bearings are the most common type and are used in a variety of applications. Bearing tools, components and accessories work on a range of products manufactured to protect them and produce smooth operation. For example, gear pullers remove bearings for inspections and repairs, and bearing protectors extend the life of a bearing by ensuring that the lubricant within the race remains in place.

How bearings work

Basically composed of a ball and a smooth inner and outer surface to roll, the ball will support the weight of the load and the associated force is what encourages rotation. How the force is placed depends on whether it is a thrust load or a radial load.

Radial loads put weight on the bearing causing it to rotate due to stress, while thrust loads put pressure directly on the bearing from an angle. Some bearings even handle radial and thrust loads. An example is a car tire, in which it supports a radial load on a straight line and a thrust load when cornering.

Bearing types

There are many different types of bearings, all made to handle both types of loads, as discussed above. Both the type of load and the ability to bear weight come into play when choosing the right bearing for the job. These are some of the variations.

Ball bearings: Ball bearings are the most common, as they support radial and axial loads. The downside is that they can only handle small loads and sometimes warp if overloaded. They can be found in many products to include hard drives and skates, among others.

Roller Bearings – Roller bearings are made to withstand heavy loads. The main roller is cylindrical and the load is distributed over a larger area, making it easier for the bearing to take on large amounts of weight. Radial loads are perfect for roller bearings, but thrust loads are not; sometimes a needle bearing is used if there is not enough space.

Ball Thrust – Low speed, low weight thrust loads are best handled with ball thrust bearings. Thrust ball bearings are used in bar stools to better support the seat, this is just one example of how they are used.

Roller Thrust – Roller Thrust Bearings look a lot like Ball Thrust. The amount of weight the bearing handles is where the difference lies, and the roller thrusts are found in car transmissions to support the helical gears.

Tapered Roller Bearings – Tapered roller bearings are made to withstand large thrust and radial loads. The versatility of these bearings makes them perfect for vehicle buckets, since they can transport both types of loads with a very high weight.

There are many types of bearings that are manufactured for very specific applications. For example, giant roller bearings, magnetic bearings, and other types of specialized bearings. The magnetic bearing can be located in high speed applications, this is due to the fact that it has no moving parts. The stability means that it can withstand elements that move quite fast. They are used to move very heavy and large loads, such as various types of buildings and large structural parts.

The bearings can be obtained both in physical stores and online. Dealing with a supplier who can recommend the best brand and type is an advantage. New bearings continue to be developed and improved for future applications.

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