The ACORN Bearing Compendium: Types of bearing, Part 5

There are many different types of bearing on the market. Sometimes the amount of choice can feel overwhelming. How do you know which type of bearing is right for your application? After all, you don’t want to make the wrong choice and experience premature bearing failure.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the different types of bearing available, from radial ball bearings through to mounted bearings. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the different types of bearings.

Radial ball bearings explained

First of all, we’ll look at radial ball bearings – one of the most popular types of bearing on the market. So, what is a radial ball bearing and where would you use one?

What is a radial ball bearing?

Radial ball bearings use ball-shaped rolling elements to reduce friction around an axis. These balls are contained in a raceway, between two grooved rings: the inner ring and the outer ring. When one ring rotates, the balls help to reduce friction. This is because rolling resistance is considerably less than sliding resistance.

The most common material for a bearing ball is carbon steel. However, other materials are available such as stainless steel, ceramic and glass. The material of the bearing balls is typically tailored to the operating conditions and the demands of the application in which the bearing is being used.

What types of radial ball bearing are available?

There are many different types of ball bearings available, all with their own features and benefits making them ideal for different applications and operating conditions. Types of ball bearing include:

  • Deep groove ball bearing – Designed for low friction operation at high rotational speeds.
  • Angular contact ball bearing – Suitable for the most demanding applications thanks to their ability to handle both radial and axial loads simultaneously.
  • Self aligning ball bearing – Ideal for use in applications subject to misalignment.
  • Thrust ball bearing – Used for axial thrust loads on vertical shaft applications.

Where are radial ball bearings used?

Radial ball bearings are known for their ability to tolerate high speed operation, as well as their moderate load carrying capacity. This means that radial ball bearings are best suited to applications which run at high speeds with a low to moderate load.

You’ll find radial ball bearings in a wide range of applications, including:

  • Vehicle engines
  • Conveyor belt traction wheels
  • Jet engine turbines
  • Skateboards, bicycles and inline skates
  • Pulley systems
  • Computers and DVD players
  • Printers and photocopiers

Radial roller bearings explained

Another popular type of bearing is the radial roller bearing. Here’s everything you need to know about radial roller bearings.

What is a radial roller bearing?

Like ball bearings, radial roller bearing use their rolling elements to reduce friction during rotational motion. However, the rolling elements used in roller bearings are rollers which have linear contact. This larger contact area increases the bearing’s ability to carry load, giving radial roller bearings an increased load carrying capacity when compared to ball bearings.

Radial roller bearings can have either cylindrical or tapered rollers. Both of these options has its own unique benefits, making it more suitable for certain applications.

What types of radial roller bearing are available?

There are many different types of roller bearings available, all with their own features and benefits making them ideal for different applications and operating conditions. Types of roller bearing include:

  • Cylindrical roller bearing – Ideal for applications subject to heavy loads and moderate speeds.
  • Spherical roller bearing – Suitable for heavy-duty applications which are prone to misalignment.
  • Taper roller bearing – Often found in the automotive industry thanks to their ability to accommodate heavy combined loads.
  • Needle roller bearing – Features a low cross section combined with a high load carrying capacity.

Where are radial roller bearings used?

Radial roller bearings feature a high load carrying capacity, along with the ability to operate at moderate speeds. This makes roller bearings ideal for use in heavy-duty machinery such as applications found in the mining and quarrying industry.

You’ll find radial roller bearings in a wide range of applications including:

  • Agricultural machinery
  • Automotive applications
  • Engines
  • Heavy machinery
  • Medical equipment
  • Mining and quarrying machinery
  • Solar panels

Plain bearings explained

With a simple design, plain bearings are popular in heavy-duty applications with a low speed. Here is everything you need to know about plain bearings.

What is a plain bearing?

A plain bearing is sometimes referred to as a sliding bearing. This is because a plain bearing features two rings without any rolling elements. The rings simply slide against one another, reducing friction in rotational motion.

Plain bearings are capable of tolerating higher levels of misalignment than bearings will rolling elements, making them ideal for use in applications which are prone to misalignment. They are also able to carry heavy loads at low speeds, whilst accommodating oscillating or reciprocating movements.

Where are plain bearings used?

Thanks to their ability to carry heavy loads and tolerate misalignment, plain bearings are used in a wide range of industrial applications. You’ll find plain bearings in:

  • Agricultural machinery
  • Construction equipment
  • Fork lift trucks
  • Heavy duty machinery
  • Industrial robots
  • Mining and quarrying applications

Mounted bearings explained

Mounted bearings, also known as flange bearings or housed bearings, offer a versatile solution to more complex applications. Here’s everything you need to know about mounted bearings.

What is a mounted bearing?

A mounted bearing consists of a bearing housing, complete with a bearing insert and sealing solution. The housing allows the bearing to be mounted onto a vertical or horizontal surface, allowing greater flexibility with bearing positioning.

The bearing housing can also provide additional protection in harsh operating environments, protecting the bearing against contamination and dirt. This makes mounted bearings ideal for use in a wide range of applications and industries.

What types of mounted bearing are available?

Mounted bearings come in a range of styles. They can be categorised by the shape of housing or the bearing insert inside. Housing types include:

  • Plummer block
  • Flanged housing
  • Two bearing housing
  • Take-up unit

Whilst bearing inserts include:

  • Ball bearing
  • Roller bearing
  • Split bearing 

Where are mounted bearings used?

Mounted bearings are ideal for use in a wide range of applications thanks to their versatile design which facilitates easy mounting and enhances the protection of the bearing. You’ll find mounted bearings in:

  • Agricultural machinery
  • Construction equipment
  • Conveyor systems
  • Elevator systems
  • Food and beverage applications
  • Mining and quarrying machinery
  • Packaging systems

In summary

There are many different types of bearing on the market and it can be hard to know which is right for your application. The right type of bearing will depend on the load and speed of your application, the surrounding environment and the operating conditions.

If you need help choosing the right bearing for your application, our experienced sales team are on hand to help. With decades of industry experience, our experts can guide you through the process of selecting the right bearing for your application requirements, helping to minimise your downtime and optimise your productivity.

Contact your local knowledgeable sales team today for expert advice and support.

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