Ball bearings are rolling elements that use balls to separate bearing races. These types of bearings help carry loads, position moving machine parts and reduce friction between moving parts or a rotating axis. Ball bearings are typically made of steel but can also use ceramics such as silicon nitride or titanium-carbide coated 440C stainless steel.
The assembly of a basic ball bearing includes four main parts:
The bearing balls
A large outer ring
A smaller inner ring
In general, ball bearings are designed to handle axial and radial loads but are best suited for lower load applications due to the smaller contact area between the races and balls. The Welsh inventor Philip Vaughan is the first modern patent holder of the ball bearing, which was given in 1794.
When choosing a ball bearing for a given application, it is important to consider the type and size of the ball bearing, as well as loads, operating temperatures, lubricant type, stray electrical currents and presence of corrosive agents.
Types of ball bearings
Depending on the configuration of the rings, ball bearings can be classified into two main groups:
Deep groove ball bearings (including single row deep groove ball bearings and double row deep groove ball bearings)
Angular contact ball bearings
These can be further categorised into thrust ball bearings and radial ball bearings.
Another way of classifying ball bearings includes considering the number of rows. Depending on these different classifications, various ball bearing models emerge, including:
Single row deep groove ball bearings
Double row deep groove ball bearings
Single row angular contact ball bearings
Double row angular contact bearings
Four point contact bearings
Self-aligning ball bearings
Single direction thrust ball bearings
Applications of ball bearings
Ball bearings are one of the most popular types of bearings, found across multiple applications such as: