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Guide to ball bearing materials

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tech talk Learn more at Ceramic Ball Bearings The most common type of ceramic ball bearing is often considered a "hybrid", which indicates that the outer race, inner race, and cage of the bearing are comprised of steel, while the balls are made from ceramic. The ceramic material enables the bearing to run faster while maintaining a cooler operating temperature and simultaneously reducing noise, vibration and wear. Since they are a hybrid design and still contain steel races, hybrid ceramic ball bearings are as equally susceptible to corrosion as steel ball bearings. Fully ceramic ball bearings tend to be more corrosion resistant, more rigid and lighter in weight than most steel ball bearings. Additionally, fully ceramic ball bearings are non-magnetic, which is useful for applications where this might be critical (e.g. MRI equipment). Lower coefficients of friction and higher RPMs are also possible and, since they are non-conductive, ceramic ball bearings can be used in electrical applications. In addition, most ceramic balls bearings can operate in temperatures up to 1,800˚ F. With these advantages, ceramic ball bearings are an attractive solution. However, these types of bearings are extremely expensive, which is a strong argument in itself for seeking out an alternative solution when extremely high speeds and high temperatures are not needed. Plastic Ball Bearings While plastic ball bearings are a newer technology, they have advantages that are not offered by steel or ceramic ball bearings. Plastic ball bearings are comprised of all-plastic races and a plastic cage, and are typically available with a choice of three different types of balls: plastic, glass or stainless steel. The choice of material is often dependent on the environment in which the bearing will be used. The most common ball material within a ball bearing is stainless steel. Stainless steel balls are the most cost-effective choice, but they are heavier than both the plastic and glass options, and they are magnetic, which can be a detriment to some applications. Glass balls are ideal when a metal-free solution is needed. Glass balls also offer excellent chemical resistance and weigh less than the steel balls. Plastic balls are another ideal option. They weigh less than both the steel and glass balls, and offer excellent wear resistance while still being resistant to a wide variety of chemicals. Whatever configuration you choose, plastic ball bearings are ideal for applications with normal to high speeds and have a number of additional attractive features. Due to their plastic construction, plastic ball bearings are self-lubricating, corrosion resistant and they deliver a quiet operation. Another major advantage is that they are lightweight. igus ® xiros ® ball bearings

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