n general, bearings are devices that are used to achieve rotational or linear motion while reducing friction and handling stress. Similar to a wheel, bearings actually allow the device to roll, which reduces friction between the bearing surface and its tumbling surface.
When friction is reduced, it is very easy to move in a rotational or linear fashion – this also increases speed and efficiency.
To meet all of these functions, the bearing uses a relatively simple construction: a ball with smooth metal surfaces inside and out that help it roll. The ball itself carries the weight of the load – the force of the load is what drives the bearing’s rotation. However, not all loads exert forces on the bearing in the same way. There are two different types of loads: radial and thrust.
Radial loads, as in a pulley, simply place weight on the bearing, causing it to roll or rotate due to tension. Thrust loads are significantly different and stress the bearing in a completely different way. If the bearing flips on its side and is subjected to full force at that angle, this is called a thrust load. The bearing used to support a high stool is an example of a bearing that is subjected to thrust loads only.
Many bearings are easily subjected to radial and axial loads. For example, car tires are subjected to radial loads when traveling in a straight line: the tires roll forward in a rotating fashion due to tension and the weight they support. However, when the car rounds a corner, it is subjected to thrust loads because the tires are no longer moving in a radial fashion only and the turning forces are heavy on the sides of the bearing.
There are many different types of bearings designed to handle radial loads, thrust loads or some combination of the two. Since different applications require bearings designed to handle specific loads and different weights, the differences between bearing types relate to the type of load and the ability to handle the weight.
Ball bearings are very common because they can handle radial and axial loads. However, they can only handle small amounts of weight. They are found in a variety of applications, such as roller blades and even hard disk drives, but are prone to deformation if they are overloaded.
These types of bearings are designed to handle thrust loads almost exclusively in low speed, low weight applications. For example, bar stools utilize ball thrust bearings to support the seat.
Roller thrust bearings are much like ball thrust bearings in that they can withstand thrust loads. The difference, however, is in the weight the bearing can carry: roller thrust bearings can support significantly larger amounts of thrust loads and can therefore be found in automotive transmissions, where they are used to support helical gears. Gear support is usually a common application for roller thrust bearings.
This type of bearing is designed to handle large radial and axial chi loads. Due to their load versatility, they are found in automotive wheel acids, where the wheels are expected to carry extremely high radial and thrust loads.
Specialty Bearings Of course, there are several types of bearings that are made for specific applications, such as magnetic bearings and giant roller bearings. Magnetic bearings are found in high-speed equipment because they have no moving parts – this stability allows them to support fast-moving equipment. Giant roller bearings are used to move very large and heavy loads, such as buildings and large structural components.
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