Allowing for great versatility and flexibility, bearings are used in every industry that involves motion.
That is to say, virtually every kind of machinery or equipment — everything from household appliances and automobile parts to aerospace and defense equipment — makes use of bearings or is made with equipment containing bearings.
There are two primary types of bearings: roller bearings and ball bearings.
Roller bearings use cylinders to maintain separation between moving parts. Ball bearings, on the other hand, utilize balls to separate the shifting pieces. Both roller bearings and ball bearings are designed to reduce rotational friction while supporting axial and radial loads.
Ball bearings operate at higher speeds than roller bearings and can handle moderate radial and axial loads. Roller bearings can achieve relatively high speeds, but are specifically designed to carry heavy radial loads.
Common Bearing Applications and Uses
Bearings are unique in that they are utilized by essentially every industry; every sector that uses machinery or involves motor mechanics employs bearings in its equipment.
Bearings are critical components in military machinery, as well as civilian machinery and equipment. And every time a person uses an appliance in their home, has a procedure done at the dentist’s office, or drives their car, bearings are in use.
Everything from cars, bicycles, blenders, dental drills, space shuttles, turnstiles, wind turbines, and gas meters makes use of these integral components.
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The Rising Demand for Bearings
The demand for bearings is expected to rise in the coming years. Motor vehicle manufacturing, which makes up the largest market for bearings, is expected to show consistently high demand, as are the construction and mining sectors.
Bearing use in engines, turbines, robotics and automation, machine tools, and power transmission machinery is also expected to rise.
The demand for bearings is closely linked to the state of engineering industries and capital goods; the more manufacturers in the bearing industry invest in research and development (R&D), the more innovative they will be able to make their products as competition becomes more intense.
Various technological advancements are now allowing for the production of highly advanced, specialized bearings. For instance, sensor units can now be incorporated into bearings; these bearings are aptly referred to as “smart bearings.”
And as lubrication technology — which is critical for reliably protecting bearings — continues to advance, these versatile components are now boasting significantly longer life spans. Bearing R&D has also led to the introduction of various industry-specific solutions, particularly for aerospace and defense.
The global construction market is rapidly expanding, and the railway and aerospace sectors continue to makes use of bearings in various applications, including gearboxes, tilting mechanisms, and shock absorbers.
And as businesses and consumers alike focus their attention on environmental issues, the bearing industry has begun to implement various sustainable practices.
For instance, bearings have been specially developed to allow for cost-effective wind energy generation; not only do these bearings increase energy production, they also enhance overall performance while reducing lubricant consumption.
In a similar vein, the automotive sector is also seeking to increase energy efficiency, and sophisticated bearings are helping to achieve that goal.