- General

Ball Thrust Bearings – Which One is Best For My Application?

Ball thrust bearings, sometimes referred to as a flat-race thrust bearings, are composed of ball bearings supported in a retainer ring and are held between two thrust washers. Thrust bearings allow smooth rotation under high thrust loads at low and medium speeds. Whether the rolling element is a ball, needle or a roller, they are designed for pure thrust loads, and can handle little or no radial load. Complete thrust bearing assemblies usually include two thrust washers and a ball retainer and typically come in standard and metric sizes, with custom sizes available.

Depending on the conditions in which you will use your thrust bearing, there are some considerations in choosing it’s construction materials.

The ball retainer can also be made of different materials, such as nylon or metal. A nylon retainer offers several advantages over a metal one. Injection molded, heat stabilized nylon retainers are lightweight, provide a natural lubricity eliminating the need for lubrication. Nylon retainers are corrosion resistant, provide quieter operation and a long service life. Another important advantage is that nylon retainers are less expensive and make a great economical choice.

The remaining components, the ball bearings and thrust washers, should be chosen to match the application and environment in which they will operate. Typical material choices include stainless steel or hardened carbon steel. Stainless steel works well in environments where moisture, corrosives may be present. They are widely used for food and beverage processing machinery, medical devices and a wide range of applications where moisture may be present. A carbon steel thrust bearing with hardened steel components is a great choice for non-corrosive environments.

Combining the cost saving and performance advantages of a nylon ball retainer with the strength and durability of steel creates a new generation of economical high-performance thrust bearings. Typical applications include advertising signage, printing equipment, marine hardware, point of purchase displays, medical instruments, manual valves, and pharmacy automation.