Jun. 13, 2022

Types And Uses of Ball Bearings

Ball Bearing

Ball Bearing


As one of the most commonly used types of bearings, ball bearings have a multitude of different construction designs, each with its own unique features for different types of applications. While it can be difficult to determine which bearing type is most suitable for your application, most bearing manufacturers, and large-scale suppliers such as MRO Supply, have experts available to provide insight and answer questions. These are the most common types of ball bearings, and the applications they are used for:


Deep Groove Ball Bearings

These bearings feature deep raceway grooves; the inner and outer rings have arcs slightly larger than the balls. The otherwise basic design gives this type of bearing high versatility, and they are very commonly used for a variety of applications. They are excellent for high speeds, high radial load capacity, and they can accept axial loads in both directions.

They operate with low noise, require little maintenance, and produce low torque, meaning low friction coefficients and low operating temperatures. Applications and industries include:

ㆍFood processing

ㆍAgricultural machinery

ㆍMachine tools

ㆍWind energy

ㆍRailway and transportation

ㆍMaterial handling

ㆍMedical and pharmaceutical equipment

These bearings are available as single or double row, each providing their own advantages and disadvantages. Generally, single row bearings provide higher accuracy, but are normally installed in matched pairs. Double row bearings eliminate the need for a second bearing, and withstand larger loads.


Angular Contact Ball Bearings

Angular contact bearings contain raceways that are displaced relative to each other in the direction parallel to the bearing axis. This design allows them to accommodate a combination of radial and axial loads simultaneously. Smaller contact angle designs provide higher speed capabilities, while larger contact angle designs provide higher axial load capacities. These bearings are also available as single or double row. Single row bearings are more precise, and minimize friction coefficients and wobbling issues. Double row bearings are space-efficient as they only require one bearing to be installed, provide higher load capacity, and avoid multiple bearing issues such as runout matching and diameter matching. These can be used in a variety of industries such as agricultural, chemical, and utility, and applications include:




ㆍPackaging and conveying equipment


Four-point Contact Ball Bearings

These bearings have a unique design, in which the inner ring is split into two parts, meaning the balls have four contact points with the raceways during radial loads, hence the name “four-point contact.” This allows the bearings to accommodate axial loads in both directions as well as a combination of radial and axial loads. These bearings are designed for more strenuous conditions compared to angular contact bearings, and can withstand high load capacities. They are most suitable for loads with high oscillatory movement. Four-point contact bearings also eliminate the need for a second matched bearing, and are space-efficient compared to double row bearings. This means they also avoid wobble and multiple bearing issues, and provide low friction coefficients. Low to moderate speed applications are preferred, including:

ㆍAutomatic opening systems

ㆍElectric motors


ㆍFitness machines

ㆍMachining equipment

ㆍIndustrial and agricultural machinery


Self-aligning Ball Bearings

Self-aligning bearings feature two rows of balls, an outer ring with a spherical raceway, and an inner ring with two deep raceway grooves. These bearings can automatically correct misalignment caused by housing or shaft machining, or an installation error. They also have extremely low friction coefficients, low maintenance requirements, high-speed performance, and excellent noise reduction. Although they specialize in misalignment correction, they are highly versatile and provide reliable light-load performance. These bearings are suitable for low load applications, typically those with very long shafts where misalignment is common, such as transmissions and textile machinery. Other applications include agricultural and heavy power machinery.

Deep Groove Ball Bearing

Deep Groove Ball Bearing

Thrust Ball Bearings

These bearings feature washer-like rings with grooved raceways, allowing them to withstand axial loads only. They can be designed to handle single or double direction thrust loads, as well as to accommodate misalignments using spherical aligning seats or aligning seat washers. Applications include those with high axial loads and little to no radial loads, such as:

ㆍElectric motors

ㆍAutomotive engines




ㆍAxle assemblies


Precision Ball Bearings

Precision ball bearings can be any type of ball bearing that is designed for extremely improved accuracy, to increase performance levels at high speeds and under strenuous conditions. They are typically more expensive, and are only used if superior engineering is required for the application. Super precision bearings are also available, using optimal materials and construction to provide extremely improved precision, rotational speed, rigidity, noise reduction, operating life, as well as minimal friction and heat generation. Applications include those with high precision requirements, such as medical and industrial handpieces, or technical mechanisms. Industries include:




ㆍMachine tools


General Ball Bearing Variations

While these types of ball bearings are each designed for a different application, there are also multitudes of bearing variations that can impact performance. Bearing and cage material, such as different types of steel, polyamides, or ceramic, can affect the speed and temperature capabilities of a bearing. Ceramic bearings are often used for highly challenging environments due to their durability and low friction coefficients, however they are more brittle and cannot handle misalignments well. Seal and shield type can impact bearing longevity, maintenance requirements, and ease of installation, and should be considered if the bearing needs to be installed and uninstalled frequently. Additionally, the size and number of balls in a bearing will determine load capacity, which is critical depending on the load requirements of the application.


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