Bearings are mechanical parts that reduce friction between moving parts. They consist of rolling elements as well as inner and outer races which are used for linear shaft or rotating applications. Such design may provide for free linear movement of the moving parts for free rotation revolving a fixed axis. Most bearings facilitate the desired motion by keep friction at the minimum.
Bearings are considered some of the most fundamental units in the machine industry. Although they can be found in an extremely wide spectrum of machines, their importance tends to be neglected by those who aren’t involved in the machine industry. But as a matter of fact, they are without a doubt an integral part of machines even though they do their work in the shadows. In this article, we’ve discussed what bearings do and why they are so important.
Without bearings, machines are not able to operate smoothly. The preliminary function of bearings is to reduce friction and ensure smoother rotation. During the machine operation, friction occurs between the rotating shaft and the part that supports it. Bearings are used between these two parts to reduce friction and enable smoother rotation. This in turn conserves energy, which is essentially the most important purpose of the bearings.
A secondary function of bearings is to serve as a protection for the part that supports the rotation, and maintain the desired position for the rotating shaft. During the rotation, a large amount of force is generated, and the bearings are used to prevent potential damage done by the large force. This function of the bearings is in fact the sole reason how a machine can run for an extended period of time while keeping the cycle times at the minimum.
There are essentially six common types of bearings:
● Rolling-element bearing: This type of bearings is most commonly seen in the automotive industry, and can be divided into two subtypes – ball bearing and roller bearing. Ball bearings are spherical balls, and roller bears are cylindrical. Both bearings are used in all kinds of machinery, from pumps to automotive transmissions.
● Plain bearing: This type of bearings has a shaft rotating in a hole. Some subtypes include rifle bearing, sleeve bearing, journal bearing, etc.
● Jewel bearing: The surface of this type of bearings is made of an ultra-hard glassy jewel material, such as sapphire, to reduce friction and wear.
● Fluid bearing: This type of bearings is a non-contact bearing wherein the load is supported by a liquid or gas. It is also known as the air bearing.
● Magnetic bearing: For this type of bearing, the load is supported by a magnetic field.
● Flexure Bearing: The motion of flexure bearings is supported by a load element that bends.
The application of bearing can virtually extend to a wide range of industry, most notably in the automotive industry. Every moving component and equipment you see in the related industries make use of bearings to improve the performance of vehicles. For example, you need a large amount of force in order to drive faster, especially going uphill. And the transmission system needs to generate adequate driving force for the varying driving circumstances. As a device that converts the power from the engine into driving force, it has to work with many different types of bears to not only generate the required force but to also withstand the force. Bearings are also found in other individual parts of a car where each also utilizes its own strength to ensure smooth performance.
Other than the automotive industries, bearings are used nearly everywhere else. Depending on the industry, the required attributes for the relative bearings are also different. Some may emphasize on durability, and others may focus on cleanliness, etc. Some of these industries include aerospace, agriculture, machine tools, medical, and mining industries. To provide another example, jewel bearings are used in industries where parts and devices are relatively smaller compared with other industries.
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