The industrial revolution transformed the economic structure of modern societies. What we are witnessing today is the result of hundreds and hundreds of years of evolution. The industrial revolution shifted employment from farmland to modern industrial units housing all kinds of machines.
Bearings were the vital cog in the wheels of any machine. So what exactly are bearings? Bearings are the parts that assist in object rotation. In fact, they support the shaft rotating inside the machinery. Some of the common and daily used machines that use bearings are automobiles, airplanes, electric generators, refrigerators, air conditioners and even vacuum cleaners. Bearing essentially performs two functions. Firstly, it reduces friction between the parts and allows for smoother rotation. Less friction means a lesser amount of energy consumption for generating the same output and efficiency. Secondly, bearings also protect the part that supports rotation. Besides, it helps in maintaining the right position for the rotating shaft. In short, bearings help in maintaining the long life of the machine by removing the friction between sub-components. Bearings are so commonly used that we don’t even notice them. Just for checking the numbers, an average high-speed car has approximately 150 bearings fitted in a different place. Other than bearing some other commonly used industrial items are V belts and fasteners.
Bearings are of different types; Rolling element bearings, ball bearing, deep groove ball bearings, angular contact ball bearings, self-aligning ball bearings, thrust ball bearings, etc.
- Rolling element bearings: Rolling element bearings contain the rolling elements in the form of a cylinder or ball. Friction consumed while rolling a wheel is significantly lower than sliding on the floor. Using the same principle, rolling bearings are employed to ease the movement of parts in a rotational motion. Even for linear movement, sliding motion can be converted to rotational motion. Escalator is a perfect example of such an application.
- Ball bearings: Ball bearings are one of the commonly used types of bearing in a real scenario. A roll of balls is placed as rolling elements. Bearings are fitted between two annuls-shaped metal pieces. The metal pieces are called races. While the outer piece is stationary the inner piece is free to rotate. Ball bearings have great efficiency in reducing friction but have a limited load-carrying capacity. Bearings are extensively used for controlling oscillatory and rotational motion. One common example is the electrical motor where bearings help in connecting the shaft to the motor housing. A few day to day advantages of using ball bearings are mentioned below:
a. Saves energy consumption by reducing friction.
b. Requires very little lubrication
d. Easily replaceable
e. Can manage thrust loads.
f. Relatively less in price
- Deep groove ball bearings: Deep groove ball bearings are the most widely used bearings in the industry. A ring of balls is present between two metal pieces for transmitting the load and facilitating rotational motion between two metal sheets. A retainer helps to keep the ball in its place. Bearings have an extremely low magnitude of friction with very low noise and low vibrations. The properties make it ideal for high-speed applications. Besides, it is extremely easy to install and maintain. The only precaution to be taken is during the installation so that there is no dent in the metal pieces.
- Angular contact ball bearings: In angular contact ball bearings, metal sheets are placed concerning each other keeping in mind the bearing axis. The purpose of this design is to handle a larger amount of axial loads in both the direction in addition to radial loads. Shifting of races allows the axial load to be transferred through the bearing to the housing. Applications requiring rigid axial guidance need such angular contact ball bearings. Such bearings are widely used in automobiles, gearboxes, pumps, agricultural equipment and other high-speed applications.
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