Bearings Types and Their Applications

A bearing is a device that supports the rotational and linear movement, bears various loads and stresses, and reduces friction. The application of bearings has been seen throughout history, predating the wheel, but over the last century, its designs have become much more advanced.

A ball bearing was incorporated into Leonardo da Vinci’s primitive helicopter design around 1500 A.D. and was the first recorded use of bearings in an aerospace design. However, the first published sketches of roller and thrust bearings were from the Italian engineer, Agostino Ramelli, sometime around 1588 A.D. Because ball bearings create more friction when they contact each other, Galileo described a cage for the ball bearings— which reduces friction— in the 17th century.

Bearings now come in many different forms, ranging from simple structures to complex and precise designs. Choosing the optimal bearing primarily depends on what they are intended to be used. Two categorizations for bearings are according to friction, and anti-friction.

Friction bearings are in contact with the moving surface or shaft and produce more friction. There are several types of friction bearings. Solid bearings are used for small and light shafts that are moving at low speeds. Essentially, they are a simple hole that is made in cast iron and supports the shaft. Split bearings are similar to solid bearings but are made in halves and assembled in a special plummer block.

A self-aligning bush bearing mainly consists of two parts: a cast iron block and a bush. The tightness between the bearings and shaft may be altered in an adjustable slide bearing for the purpose of the adjustment of wear. Some of the advantages of friction bearings are that they are cheap, quiet, easily machined, fit into small radial spaces, and have vibration damping properties. These devices do have some disadvantages, they have the potential to damage machines, restrict the early movement of the machine, and produce a lot of heat energy.

Anti-friction bearings minimize friction within the bearing which allows an object's speed to increase while friction and temperature decrease. A ball bearing uses balls to separate the bearing races. Variations of this component include single-row ball bearings, double-row ball bearings, self-aligning ball bearings, angular contact ball bearings, and thrust ball bearings. Roller bearings distribute the load over a larger area and support heavier weights.

A few subcategories are self-aligning roller bearings, tapered roller bearings, needle roller bearings, cylindrical roller bearings, barrel roller bearings, and spherical roller bearings. Some of the advantages of anti-friction bearings are that they are easy to replace, have higher longevity, have less friction, operate easier at high speeds, and require less lubrication. Disadvantages of this component are that they are more expensive, require a larger diameter space, debris entering the bearing wears them quicker, and they have less of a capacity to handle the shock.

At Buy Aviation Parts, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all the bearings you need, new or obsolete. As a premier supplier of parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries, we’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7x365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at +1-714-705-4780.


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