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Ball Bearings

A ball bearing is a rolling bearing used within the power transmission industry. Ball bearings feature metal balls between an inner ring and outer ring. The rings feature raceways in which the balls sit. Ball bearings are designed to reduce rotational friction while supporting radial loads and axial loads. Incorporating a rolling element that guarantees a low coefficient of friction. Ball bearings ensure smooth and uninterrupted rotation of, for example, an axle or motor shaft.

With applications in everything from bicycle wheels to aerospace engineering, the ball bearing is a versatile rolling element bearing. They are ideal for high-speed applications with light to medium loads. For heavier loads, a Roller Bearing may be more suitable. Ball bearings are usually made from steel because of its durability. However, there are ceramic and plastic options available too. Single-row ball bearings are the most common, but double and triple rows are available too.

The only way for a ball bearing to operate efficiently or at high speeds is with the right lubrication which can work at high temperatures. The correct oil or grease lubricant has to be used with each bearing depending on its nominal lifespan and load. For further information about ball bearings and how to decipher the codes on them, see our ball bearings guide.

Types of Ball Bearings

Ball bearings are available in open and sealed versions, depending on the environment. They are also available in a range of diameters, supplied in metric sizes. Types include:

  • Deep-groove ball bearings are for when a higher load capacity is required.
  • Angular Contact ball bearings are used for combination axial and radial loads.
  • Linear ball bearings provide rotation in a single direction.
  • Miniature ball bearings are ideal for compact applications.
  • Self-aligning ball bearings used with long shafts and can handle misalignment.
  • Thrust ball bearings are used for axial loads.
  • Ceramic bearings are resistant to corrosion and very little lubrication.
  • Shielded bearings feature a rubber shield to protect the bearing from contaminants.

Ball bearings are used in objects with moving parts and have many applications. These include quite specific uses such as in appliances, machinery, gearboxes and centrifugal pumps.


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