For 50+ years, Emerson Bearing has developed and maintained a reputation for distributing high-quality roller and ball bearings, serving the needs of both international and domestic customers.
Our team of experts works hard to ensure every customer receives the bearing that best suits the demands of their specific application. We offer assistance with determining your needs while identifying any restrictions or requirements and supplying accurate pricing options and delivery schedules.
What are Ball Bearings?
Ball bearings consist of rolling elements that maintain separation between the inner and outer rings of the component. Using ball bearings reduces friction, allowing for a smooth, high-speed motion for sustaining axial and radial loads. Ball bearings can be developed for different speeds, loads, and applications.
Ball Bearing Material
The material used and the overall design features of a ball bearing can vary drastically depending on the application requirements. Commonly used materials include:
Multiple bearing rows, cages, and flanges are available as needed.
How Are Ball Bearings Made?
Millions of ball bearings are produced annually, with chrome steel being the most commonly used material. Chrome steel bearing balls are almost perfectly rounded and offer a polished, mirror-like finish to provide precision rotary motion in hundreds of industrial applications, some of which include:
The manufacturing of steel balls includes a steel rod or wire, which gets cut into small pieces (slugs) during the first step of the process. The slug is then fed into a header machine, where the metal balls undergo a cold-forming process (heading).
Excess material, known as burrs or flash, must be filed away from the metal ball. The flashing process (filing) occurs while the metal is still soft and not yet perfectly rounded. While there are two machining variations commonly used by manufacturers, both involve rolling the balls between two metal plates.
Once the excess material has been removed and the balls are relatively round, they undergo a heat-treating process to strengthen and harden the material.
The steps include:
- Heating the balls to 1,500ºF
- Quenching the balls in an oil bath
- Re-heating the balls at 325ºF to ensure thorough hardening
Heat treatment causes discoloration and oxide deposits to develop on the balls. The balls undergo a descaling process to remove these spots. An acidic compound, or another chemical agent, is used during descaling to remove any build-up from the metal balls.
Once the balls are relatively round and hardened, the next phase involves grinding the balls to achieve proper size and improve the roundness geometry. Similar to soft grinding, the balls get rolled between a fine-grit grinding wheel and a steel plate.
The final step in the manufacturing process is lapping. This super-finishing process improves the geometry or surface finish, removing trace amounts of material so the ball achieves tight tolerance requirements.
Once manufacturing is complete, the balls are washed to remove leftover residue. The clean metal balls are then inspected for size and signs of scratches or other defects.
Ball Bearing Types
The following factors play a crucial role when selecting a ball bearing for a specific application:
At Emerson Bearing, we offer customers a full range of high-quality ball bearings, including the following popular types:
Miniature / Instrumentation
Miniature/instrumentation ball bearings provide dependable, high performance within small envelope dimensions for moderate thrust and radial load at low operating torque speeds.
These ball bearings are available in various ABEC classes, in either stainless steel or chrome, and come in inch or metric styles. Sizes range from 1 mm/0.0400-inch inside diameter to 26 mm/0.8750-inch outside diameter.
Deep Groove Radial
Deep groove radial ball bearings are highly effective in handling heavy radial loads and relatively low bidirectional thrust. They are usually used in high-speed precision applications and include rubber seals or enhanced metal shields as needed.
Multiple tolerance grades, internal clearances, and cage designs are available to meet the precision and speed requirements of a specific application.
When an axial load is unidirectional, our single-row angular contact bearings can sustain radial, axial, and combined loads. Designs with small contact angle designs can allow for high-speed operations, while larger contact angles can accommodate higher axial loads.
The bore diameter can vary between 10 mm to 170 mm, with cages and retainers available using the following materials:
Applications that require high-speed axial load support can benefit from ball thrust bearings designed to handle bi-directional axial loads. The bearings feature rings that contain raceway grooves, with bore dimensions ranging from 10 mm to 560 mm.
Control bearings are compact and able to sustain high radial loads. Offered in both sealed (PTFE) and open designs, cadmium plating is available for external surfaces, excluding the bore. Our control bearings cannot be used in aircraft and airframe applications but are certified for general commercial use.
Mast guide ball bearings perform similarly to a tire or wheel, with a thick cross-section on the outer race that allows the ball bearings to sustain high radial loads and thrust loads. Several profiles are available.
V-groove Bearings and Wire Straighteners
V-groove bearings and wire straighteners have angular grooves typically set at 90º, which can accommodate various contours and angles for different applications. They are available in metric and inch styles.
Ball Bearing Uses
Ball screw support bearings prove beneficial in applications involving ball screws or lead screws. Most have angular contact for ball screw support with a steep angle contact often found in duplex, triplex, and quadruplex configurations.
Other ball bearing designs are available with separate thrust and radial roller bearings in a single assembly. Cartridge designs include the bearings, housing, and seal in one component.
Cylindrical or split spherical roller bearings are ideal for this mining, concrete, or aggregate applications to dramatically reduce downtime and maintenance costs. These types of ball bearings are especially useful in difficult-to-access locations.
For articulation/swivel joints, we recommend a combination of a maintenance-free spherical plain bearing used with a high load capacity four-point bearing.
Ball bearings are crucial in electric motor productivity. They perform the following essential functions:
- Minimize power loss
- Reduce friction
- Reduce noise
- Attain optimal design speed range
- Ensure long service life
The most common ball bearings used in pumps for oil and gas industrial applications include the following:
- High-load capacity angular contact ball bearings with machined brass cages
- High-load capacity double-row angular contact ball bearings
- High-load capacity deep groove ball bearings
- High-load cylindrical roller bearings
A vast range of industries utilize ball bearings, which serve a wide variety of purposes in a broad range of processes. To learn more about the bearing applications, click here.
Industrial Ball Bearings from Emerson Bearing
Selecting the proper ball bearing is essential to ensure optimal reliability and performance for a specific application, with benefits that include:
Emerson Bearing is a leading distributor of rolling and ball bearings, offering a vast array of options for customers across many diverse industries. We are proud to supply products from industry-leading brands and have the largest inventory of bearings at multiple price points on the East Coast.
We are ready to help you select the bearings you need, and our technical team will work closely with you to ensure you get the proper component for your specific application.
Contact us today to learn more about our products and to discuss your specific needs with one of our trained experts. You can also request a quote and watch our video to learn more about our extensive product line.
Contact the Bearing Experts at Emerson Bearing Today
Bearings serve a key role in robotics and automation solutions. If you need high-quality bearings for your robotic or automation application, turn to the experts at Emerson Bearing. Equipped with over 50 years of experience serving the bearing needs of domestic and international customers, we have what it takes to help you identify the right bearing solution for your application.
For more information about our bearing solutions for robotic and automated systems, contact us today.
Special Solutions: Thin cross section, high capacity, ball bearings available in radial, angular, or four point contact styles. Off the shelf linear guidance for unique applications. Plain bearings (bushings) for small radial or axial design envelopes. These are maintenance-free and are available in metal backed style with a liner or thermoplastic with a composition to suit various needs: food grade, high load, dirty environment, etc.
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