Ball bearings are used in a multitude of things requiring smooth movement whether it’s a high tech space craft or home lazy susan. Knowing what ball bearing applications to use before full fledged design is done can help determine what type to use. Whether or not self lubricating ball bearings are used can effect design. An enclosed system that doesn’t require greasing may alleviate worry about moisture or foreign objects entering the housing. The American Bearing Manufacturers’ Association sets standards for ball bearings and these must be adhered to.
The size of the ball bearing depends on the stress it will be under. The time it takes for a slight malfunction of the bearing is measures fatigue. Once any imperfection is made the part will hinder overall performance. In the case of a skateboard, the wheels will not spin as smoothly which can cause the rider unbalance, and possible injury can happen. Speed will also be hindered and top performance negated.
Ball bearing applications are used in aeronautics. Pulleys, gas turbine engines, and gearboxes need smooth movement in aircraft. Precision instruments in the control panel also need strong, smooth bearings. A snug fit in the bearing cage can make the difference in longevity and tight fitting parts are crucial. Unnecessary space between bearings can cause brinelling or obtuse movements which lead to quicker mechanical failure. Bearings that won’t corrode are also important in this application. Titanium carbide, silicon nitride, or 440C stainless steel are common materials for parts that will withstand vibration and not deteriorate as quickly. These are also used in high speed dental and surgical tools which are exposed to body fluids as well as sterilization substances.
Something as simple as a lazy susan for a table is another application in which bearings are used to keep swiveling smooth. Sharing condiments, crafting items, tools, even the kid’s crayons can be easier accessed from all sides all because of ball bearing application. Drawer slides, computer hard drives, fans, and car air conditioning units are some everyday uses. Some larger ball bearing applications can be found in roller coasters, railroad cars, ski lifts, cranes, radar mounts, and space satellites. Mining and machine engineering also utilize different types.
Applications for ball bearing do not even need to perform in traditional functions. Motorized clocks with movable tracks that mark minutes and hours by dropping round bearings every minute use the weight of a given number of bearings to drop the track, adding a ball to mark the hour. An arm picks up a ball from the bottom track and deposits it to the top in a never ending cycle. Great fun to watch at one o’clock when they all roll down the track, but rather noisy in bedrooms.
Ball bearings have various shrouds like offset races, single or double races, depending on workloads the unit will be used for. Self-aligning bearings may be needed in a shaft prone to vibration. These have round contact points in the housing as well as the bearings being round. Blocks may have enclosed systems or may be accessible for greasing or oiling. Some places are not as easily accessed as in the case of space satellites or space stations, where minimal, routine maintenance cannot me performed. Most bearings that need lubrication for usage will come pre-lubed. The manufacturer can give approximations to determine a schedule for it and also the types of lubrication best suited for their product for maximum efficiency.