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Ball bearings: what are they and what are they used for?

A focus on these components so important to many industries

Ball bearings are key components used in multiple industries to ensure efficient operation of machinery and systems. These mechanical devices reduce friction between moving parts, enabling smooth rotary motion and even load distribution.

But what exactly are ball bearings and what are their main applications? Let's analyze these solutions in detail.

What are ball bearings?

Ball bearings consist of a main structure composed of steel rings that contain steel balls inside them. These balls allow rotary motion between the rings, reducing friction and improving system efficiency. Due to their simple but effective design, ball bearings are ideal for medium radial and axial loads, also offering good acoustic behavior at medium and high speeds.

Principle of operation of ball bearings

The working principle of ball bearings, as the name implies, is based on the use of some steel balls. When a force is applied to one of the rings, the balls move along the raceway, turning sliding friction into rolling friction and greatly reducing friction between the moving parts.

Ball bearings consist of several basic components:

  • outer ring;
  • inner ring;
  • spheres;
  • cage. 

All of these components work synergistically to ensure optimal ball bearing operation.

The outer and inner rings are responsible for providing a rolling surface for the balls. The spheres, made of steel or ceramic, are placed between the rings and allow rotational movement. The cage, made of various materials, keeps the steel balls equidistant, preventing them from colliding with each other.

During operation, it is important to note that the load is transmitted from the tracks to the balls in a very small contact area, giving the system a very smooth rotation, but greatly increasing contact pressures. As a result, if the bearing is overloaded, the balls may deform or crush, damaging the bearing. When operating loads are very high, a roller bearing should be considered.

What are ball bearings used for? Main applications

Ball bearings find applications in a wide range of industries. In the industrial sector, where they are used, for example, in lathes, milling machines, and presses. In the automotive sector, on the other hand, they are used in engines, transmissions and wheels to reduce friction and improve efficiency.

They also find wide use in mining, paper, steel mills, oil and gas, wind energy and rail transportation.

Conclusions and the role of UMBRAGROUP

In conclusion, ball bearings are essential components used in a wide range of industries to reduce friction and improve machinery efficiency. Due to their simple yet effective design, they enable smooth rotary motion and reduce part wear, increasing the life of systems.

In this context, we at UMBRAGROUP have for over fifty years been a benchmark for supplying both standard and customized ball bearings according to specific process requirements. Our dedicated team can provide total support on both product and bearing application. Contact us now for more information!

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