How Do Ball Bearings Work?

A ball bearing is a common piece of hardware that is used in the modern world. It’s a rolling-element type of bearing, and it uses balls to maintain a level of separation between bearing races. There are quite a few different types of ball bearings that are used frequently.

Types of Bearings

Named after the person who invented it, the Conrad-style ball bearing is used commonly. A Conrad-style bearing is assembled by placing an inner race into an eccentric position that is relative to the outer race. With this design, the two races contact each other at a single point, which creates a gap that is opposite of the point of contact.

Balls are added through the gap, and the balls are distributed evenly throughout the bearing assembly, which causes races to become concentric. By fitting a special cage to the balls that helps the balls to maintain their positions relative to each other, assembly is completed.

The advantage of Conrad-style ball bearings is that they can withstand both axial and radial loads, but they are also plagued by lower load capacity. A few more common types of ball bearings include slot-fill, flanged, rows, self-aligning, caged and split-race.

Ball Bearing Basics: How They Work

Put simply, a ball bearing can act like a roller. Ball bearings greatly reduce the resistance between two objects. When a ball bearing is used, wear and tear is much less likely to occur.

Ball bearings are capable of transferring force from main components to bearings. By performing this function, ball bearings reduce the amount of tension that is placed on machinery.

Common Usages for Ball Bearings

There are many uses for ball bearings, and they are used in a variety of different industries.

Cars and Skateboards

Two common uses for ball bearings are skateboards and cars. A skateboard is an excellent example of ball bearing usage. The small components that are inside of skateboard wheels are basically ball bearings. They allow the skateboard wheels to move freely, and they transfer the force from the person who is standing on the skateboard. Most ball bearing suppliers will provide bearing for all applications.

For Bridges

Like virtually any other type of structure, bridges contract and expand. Ball bearings are used in bridges to prevent cracking. When a bridge expands, the bearings transfer friction, and they prevent the bridge from cracking.

For this to work, one side of a bridge is fitted with ball bearings. The bearings make it very easy for the bridge to extend length when it’s expanding.

Earthquake Protection

Many types of buildings are fitted with bearings, and the bearings help to protect the building from the effects of an earthquake. By fitting a building’s support column and base with huge bearings, ground movements from an earthquake cause a building’s base to shake with the movements. The bearings give the support columns the ability to roll on the bearings, and this is what prevents serious damage that can be caused by an earthquake.

Computers

Most people don’t know that ball bearings are actually used in computers. More specifically, ball bearings can be found in a computer’s hard drive. Since a computer hard drive contains components that move at very high speeds, ball bearings are needed to reduce the friction.

Exercise Equipment

Many different exercises machines use ball bearings, and once again, the main purpose of these bearings is to reduce friction. As fitness enthusiasts understand, exercise equipment produces a lot of friction. Ball bearings reduce exercise equipment friction, and by reducing friction, an exercise machine will enjoy a much longer lifespan.

These are just a few of the ways that ball bearings make life better. Many household objects also contain ball bearings. Products like bicycles, guitars, blenders, gaming controllers, microwaves, blenders, fans, washing machines, mechanical toothbrushes and even air conditioners contain ball bearings. The ball bearing is an essential piece of technology, and it has revolutionized a wide range of products.

John Lomas is an experienced ball bearing engineer, who works along side of many suppliers to improve the lifespan of ball bearings.

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