Bearings are an integral part of the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries. Due to their importance and wide range of applications, bearings come in many types. Types of bearings include ball bearings, angular contact bearings, Tapered Roller Bearings, spherical roller bearings, and cylindrical roller bearings. The most common of these types is the ball bearing. This blog will provide insight into what a ball bearing is, what it does, and the many different types of ball bearings in use today.
Bearings are often named for their inner rolling element. With ball bearings, whose rolling elements are a collection of spherical balls, this is no different. Ball bearings are also sometimes referred to as “deep groove ball bearings” because of the deep grooves in the inner and outer races of the bearing, which allow the spherical balls to move smoothly. There are four basic parts of a ball bearing: the inner race, outer race, rolling element, and the cage. The inner race is the part of the bearing that is mounted on the rotating shaft, helping to rotate the shaft. The outer race is mounted to the housing and remains stationary. It also serves as a means for transferring loads between bearing and housing. The rolling element - in this case balls - are the pieces that carry the load, rotating along the inner race and distributing the load throughout both races. The cage acts as a barrier between the rolling elements, ensuring they do not bump into each other.
Beyond deep groove ball bearings, there are five other common types of ball bearings. They are Angular Contact Ball Bearings, duplex angular contact, four-point contact ball bearings, double-row angular contact ball bearings, and self-aligning ball bearings. Angular contact ball bearings feature a direct line that connects the inner ring, rolling elements, and outer ring at a given angle in the radial direction. These bearings support axial loads but must be used in pairs to properly support an angle. The duplex angular contact ball bearings are bearings that combine two or more angular ball bearings in back-to-back, face-to-face, or tandem configurations. Each of the configurations is used depending on the requirements pertaining to their particular application.
Four-point contact ball bearings are ball bearings wherein the inner ring is separated into two separate rings. When the inner and outer rings are pushed in the radial direction, the rolling elements make contact with the rings at four different points, hence their name. These bearings can withstand axial loads from both directions. Double-row angular contact bearings have structures that arrange single row angular contact ball bearings as Duplex Bearings, connecting the inner and outer rings. This makes them more adept to bearing both radial and axial loads, also withstanding moment loads in certain applications. The final type of ball bearing is the self-aligning ball bearing. These bearings feature a spherical surface with a point at which the center of the outer ring race matches the center of the bearing, and the inner ring has a dual-race groove. The rolling elements, cage, and inner ring tilt freely relative to the outer ring, allowing the bearing to rotate. Through this process, any misalignment resulting from errors in the axis or housing is corrected automatically.
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