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What the Bearing Manufacturing Process Actually Looks Like in Practice

Did you know the US ball-bearing manufacturing industry was worth around $6 billion in 2021?

We rely on ball-bearing technology for a wide range of industrial and mechanical applications. Without them, many types of manufacturing, energy, and automotive sectors would quickly grind to a halt.

But what is the manufacturing process behind ball bearings? We’re here to get the ball rolling if you want to better understand how this crucial component get made.

Read on for everything you need to know about bearing manufacturing.

What Are Bearings?

Rotating bearings and INTECH cams feature in practically every rotary motion application. This includes automotive, dental tools, machining spindles, pumps, and dozens of other uses.

Ball bearings are a type of element bearing that employs metal balls to separate bearing races and produce smooth, low friction action. Ball bearings come in a variety of sizes.

Bearings consist of 3 key components. So, let’s take a look at the manufacturing process.

Races

A bearing has two races, inner and outer. The manufacturing process is the same for both.

First, machine tools cut steel tubes to a race template. The form is slightly bigger than the final race dimensions to allow for shrinkage during heat treatment.

This treatment takes place in a furnace, at around 1,550 degrees Fahrenheit. After many hours in the furnace, the rough cut goes into an oil bath to solidify. They complete the races using grinding wheels to create a smooth finish following the heat treatment procedure.

Balls

The balls are a star as thick metal wires. The wire runs from a coil and enters the cold heading process.

A bulge near the ball’s centerline forms during this process, which must be then be removed. To do this, the balls are run between two cast-iron discs, one spinning and one fixed.

The resulting friction eliminates the bulge. The balls are left slightly larger throughout the procedure to accommodate heat shrinkage. Finally, the balls pass between the two discs, bringing them close to their final size. They are then sent to a lapping machine to be finished.

Cage

Cages consist of punched sheet metal. Following the initial stamp, the cage is folded to the appropriate final shape using a die.

Manufacturers make plastic cages in a different way, using a technique known as injection molding. This procedure begins with a mold, which they inject with molten plastic and allow to solidify.

Bearing Manufacturing Explained

So, that’s the 101 on how these crucial components get made. Each of the three component parts makes up a crucial piece of engineering equipment.

With each part of the bearing fabricated, the final step of the bearing manufacturing process is to fit them together and send them out for a huge variety of different industry applications.

Did you find this article informative? If so, be sure to check out there’s of our blog for other interesting content.

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