All about Thrust Bearings


Thrust Bearings
A bearing allows parts that sit close together to rotate freely and significantly reduce friction. Thrust bearings are rotary bearings that predominantly support axial loads. They're often used in automotive, marine, and aerospace applications. There are many variations of a thrust bearing— each designed to support different loads and performance.
 
Thrust bearings are used in vehicles, centrifuges, and generators; they're designed to assist rotation around a fixed shaft or axis. There are two main types of thrust bearings, ball thrust bearings, and roller thrust bearings. Ball thrust bearings are frequently used in aerospace, chemical, and utility applications, while roller thrust bearings are frequently used in the agricultural industry where high-load capacity is required.  
 
Ball thrust bearings contain bearing balls that sit inside a ring between two grooved washers and are typically used for smaller axial loads. The difference between ball thrust and roller bearings is self-explanatory— the bearings are either balls or rollers. Roller bearings can support larger loads. There are three subtypes of roller thrust bearings: cylindrical, tapered, and spherical. Cylindrically shaped rollers are the least expensive but wear quicker because they create more friction and circular speed. Tapered rollers are more expensive but can be used in pairs to support axial thrust in opposing directions and assist with radial loads. Spherical rollers support axial and radial loads.
 
There are two other types of bearings that are less common, magnetic thrust bearings and fluid thrust bearings. Fluid thrust bearings contain a pressurized fluid in place of the ball or roller bearings. They have less friction, wear, and vibration, but they can also have potential leaks and higher power consumption. Magnetic thrust bearings have a magnetic field in place of any physical bearing; they have low drag and can sustain higher speeds.

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