What Are Radial Bearings and How Do They Work?

You may have never heard the term radial bearings before, but you’ll be surprised to know this seemingly insignificant industrial piece is actually a part of our everyday lives. They are employed in widely different types of machines and devices, from supermarket trolleys to nuclear power plants. All types of equipment depend on this tiny cylindrical object to function properly. What are radial ball bearings used for though, and why are they so important in the industrial sector?

Basically, a bearing is used to reduce the friction between moving parts, allowing machinery to work in an easier and more efficient manner. Take rotating doors, for example. Radial bearings are used to redistribute the weight of the door and reduce the force of its movement so that it’s easier for people to slide them open. For this purpose, they rely on a set of running balls or rollers, usually made of steel or tough ceramic materials.

What Is the Purpose of Radial Bearings?

Radial bearings serve to prevent direct metal-to-metal contact, specifically between two pieces of machinery that are in motion at the same time. This avoids friction and heat generation, as well as eventual wear and malfunctioning. They also reduce energy consumption, thus cutting costs.

They are commonly formed by a series of steel balls held together by a circular structure that is made of low-friction materials. This structure is surrounded by an inner ring and an outer ring. The bearing as a whole is usually enclosed by a shield made of plastic or metal.

Radial bearings come in handy in a wide range of industries, including but not limited to:

  • Industrial machinery
  • Agricultural machinery
  • Earthmoving machinery
  • Manufacturing equipment (steel, glass, marble, wood, etc.)
  • Industrial machinery for cleaning and packaging

Types of Radial Bearings: Let’s Take a Dive into History!

The first person to notice the merits of the ball-bearing technique was Leonardo Da Vinci. He carried out the first systematic study of friction, specifically when it concerned the rotational resistance of axles and the workings of screw threads. He studied the subject for more than 20 years and went on to build models for different kinds of mechanical systems.

However, the first patent for ball bearings was filed in 1794 by Philip Vaughan, a Welsh inventor, and ironmaster. In 1869, Jules Suriray, a French bicycle mechanic, come up with the first design for the modern radial ball bearing. His invention was later implemented into a bicycle owned by James Moore, allowing him to win the world’s first bicycle road race.

Since then, many different types of radial bearings have been invented, each with its own unique features and applications. They are divided into different categories:

  • Axial: Also known as thrust ball bearing, they make use of side-by-side races.
  • Deep-groove: In this design, the size of the race is similar to the one of the balls running inside it. They are particularly useful when dealing with higher loads.
  • Preloaded pairs: Two individual bearings are tightly fastened along a rotating shaft, facing each other. This improves the axial runout. 
  • Angular contact: This type of bearing uses axially asymmetric races, which allows them to better support combined loads. They are commonly seen in the headsets of bicycles.

To avoid premature failure in radial bearings and keep them working smoothly, you need only follow a few simple steps:

  • Keep them clean by wiping them with a soft cloth every once in a while
  • Check them for damage regularly
  • Avoid overheating
  • Mount them correctly and use the proper tools when handling them
  • Look out for corrosion
  • Lubricate them properly

Where Can I Buy Radial Bearings? 

If you’re looking for a trustworthy manufacturer of radial bearings, as well as any type of industrial component, ISB Industries is the best way to go. Considered one of the most important competitors in the market, they are known for delivering high-quality products, always going above and beyond to meet the requirements of its clientele.

There are many advantages worth pointing out in the radial bearings manufactured by this giant of the industry. Some of them include:

  • Remarkable resistance
  • High-quality speed performance
  • Reliability and versatility 
  • Great load distribution
  • Bidirectional axial support
  • Low maintenance
  • Variety of products (standard bearings, sealed bearings, bearings with snap ring grooves, etc.)

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