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Why Material Selection Matters for Bearings and beyond?

To fight friction and facilitate seamless movement, bearings matter. Likewise, for bearings to work efficiently there are several minute facets that matters and are taken in account by bearings and bushes suppliers.

One among them and a significant one is the selection of materials for bearings. It is overseen, most of the time, given the lack of knowledge. In this blog we will understand:

Why material selection Matters for bearings.

Even the most expensive bearings fail 

Any bearing manufacturing company will attest to the fact that there is no single type of bearings that are considered to be the best. All bearings are best suited for specific operations and load.

Without understanding the performance requirements, even the shiniest bearings fail. Bearing manufacturers are adept at producing bearings for specific purposes. A brief understanding of its materials can ensure you have the ideal bearings for your purpose.

Chances of failure

The chances of failure increase manifold when the materials selected do not fit the application. Several firms stick to certain types of bearings just because it had worked well for them in the past.

Materials play an integral role in determining the bearings’ lifespan. Undermining the materials’ importance is a direct recipe for catastrophic failures. This is furthered when bearings are made of alloys. In the case of proportions, choosing the wrong materials can derail the bearings’ performance.

Operational costs

The most disregarded part of bearings’ costs is the type of materials used. Why? Materials in bearings have a direct impact on broader operational concerns. For example, the porosity of the material affects the maintenance schedules. With a certain material needing more lubrication, replacing the material is more economical.

Given bearings have a generally long life; these costs can accumulate into big numbers, over time. No bearing manufacturer can surely estimate this accumulation. Hence, rather than working around the flaws, using the right materials is your best bet.

Fear of over-engineering

Choosing materials effectively also helps in avoiding over-engineering. This is a problem faced by many firms but identified by very few. And the solution is farther away.

Oftentimes, firms tend to choose bearings of superior materials, only for no real requirement. Despite being made up of better quality materials, bearings can tend to reduce performance. This is how bearings fail due to over-optimization. The simple solution is to select materials based on the requirement. Consulting with a bearing manufacturing company shall assist in this measure.

These are the major reasons why the selection of materials for bearings is of paramount importance. Meanwhile, below are certain characteristics that need to be considered during material selection.

  • Compressive strength

Bearings work to facilitate seamless movement and rotation. For this, the materials need to be sturdy enough, and not crumble. Materials with higher compressive strength are preferred for bearings. These ensure the bearing does not shrink in size, under load, and movement.

  • Friction coefficient

This is a ratio that indicates the force of friction plying between the two surfaces of the machine. Whilst lower friction is ideal for most bearings, it is not an independent quality. It depends on load, rotation speed, and even lubrication. Finding a material with a lower friction coefficient is the best way for seamless movement.

  • Porosity

The volume of pores in relevance to the area of the bearing is known as porosity. In a bearing, this acts as an oil reservoir, reducing the need for constant lubrication.

The higher the porosity of the material, the more the lubricating oil present. This is perfect for high-speed or high-load applications.

  • Thermal expansion coefficient

With the temperature change, the bearing should not expand or contract easily. Since bearings are found to operate in extreme conditions, the thermal expansion should be minimal. During material selection, bearing manufacturers must choose materials with the lowest coefficient of expansion.

  • Seizure resistance

The material must have a good bearing shaft-metal combination. This ensures the shaft and bearing materials in rubbing condition do not produce localized welds. These welds can directly lead to scoring or seizure of the machinery.

  • Corrosion resistance

The life of a bearing is mightily dependent on the materials used. If the material is fragile and corrodes easily, it is not ideal. Material with high corrosion resistance makes for the best bearings. 

Any chemical or electro-chemical reaction surrounding the bearing must not decay the bearing. Bronze sleeve bearings are known for their high levels of corrosion resistance.

  • Conformability

Bearings are used for various machinery and applications. The surfaces are bound to vary, for each application. Hence, the conformability of the material is important. This means the ability of the material to conform to the edges and bumps of the surface.

  • Thermal conductivity

How does a material allow for heat to pass through it is what thermal conductivity addresses. This is better known as the conduction of heat. This is important when the operating environment is known to have extreme conditions.

This is also directly impacted by the thermal coefficient of expansion.

  • Fatigue resistance

This is a quantifiable ability of a material to resist failure due to fatigue. The fatigue resistance of the material needs to be prioritized while selecting the materials. Also, consider operating at different temperatures and loads. This provides for a comprehensive understanding of the material’s strength and sturdiness.

  • Cost

Quite self-explanatory, bearings that are feasible, at scale are the ones that you invest in. Talking with a couple of bearings and bush suppliers shall provide a fair idea.

Final Words:

We have understood why the selection of materials matter for bearings. Also, the aforementioned characteristics of materials are required to be considered by any bearing manufacturing company.

Purchasing bearings with the right material for the right uses is a tedious task. To hasten this process, collaborate with Hi-bond Bearings who are pioneers in manufacturing bearings in India.