There are a lot of products that people use every single day, yet they do not think about them. In fact, they take them for granted until something happens and they do not work as they should. A good example of this is a ball bearing. Just about every single mechanical device a person uses has ball bearings, yet no one even thinks about their function, and the majority of people have no idea how they function.
In its most general terms, bearings are designed to allow either rotational or lineal movement. Their primary goal is to minimize the amount of friction that exists between the two moving parts, while at the same time supporting any stress that these parts put on them.
Many bearings look like wheels, and this would make sense since what they do is allow devices to roll. Since friction is reduced, products are able to roll or move more efficiently, faster, and using less energy.
While bearings are used in a wide array of complex mechanical devices, their design is relatively simple. This is because ball bearings rely on a very simple shape, which is a sphere or a ball. These balls ride inside a smooth metal surface or a ball bearing retainer that makes it easier for the product to roll.
The force or the weight of the moving parts is supported by the ball itself. That being said, the load that is put on a bearing can differ depending on the product that is used in. The loads can be divided into two different categories. There is a radial load and a thrust load.
When you’re thinking about a radial load, you should envision something like a pulley. In this scenario, weight on the bearing causes the bearing to rotate as a result of tension.
To understand what thrust load is, you can imagine a tire swing hanging from of a tree. Now envision three children sitting in different parts of the swing. As the tire swing rotates and undulates, the force on the bearings is going to be at different angles. Or you could think about a bar stool that swivels around. This is an example of a thrust load.
Some bearings have to deal with both radial and thrust loads. For example, the bearings inside a car tire have to deal with radial loads as the car is driving forward. However, if the car turns around the corner, then there is a thrust load because the tires are not just moving in a straight fashion, but instead at an angle.