Ball Bearing Types & Applications

Ball bearings are simple but powerful components that minimize friction in rotational applications ranging from industrial machinery to office equipment. Spherical ball bearings have only minimal contact with their containing races, allowing them to transfer radial or axial loads with rapid, fluid motion. A variety of housing shapes and lubrication options improve versatility while promoting performance across a long working life.

At SPB, we specialize in precision ball bearings to suit varied size, shape, and material requirements. Our premium EZO Precision Ball Bearings are available with bore diameters from the extra-miniature 0.6 mm (0.0236″) to the large 90-mm (3.543″). They are available in chrome, steel, or stainless steel, allowing us to offer cost-effective options for every client.

Miniature Bearings

Miniature bearings are defined by their very small rolling elements, with bore diameters no larger than 10 mm (0.3937″). Bearings of this size enable high-speed rotation with minimal noise or vibration. Thanks to their excellent frictional torque performance, these bearings are well-suited to a range of high-speed motor applications, including (but not limited to): 

  • Fan motors
  • Spindle motors
  • Stepping motors
  • Rotary encoders
  • Dental handpieces
  • Drills
  • Medical devices

Miniature Bearings
We supply durable miniature bearings in both metric and inch designations for maximum compatibility across applications.

Extra-Miniature Bearings

Extra-miniature bearings are even smaller than standard miniature bearings, with bore diameters ranging from just 0.6-2.5 mm (0.0236-0.0984″). They are sometimes called instrument bearings because of their suitability for high-precision measuring applications, although their ability to withstand exceptionally high speeds also makes extra-miniature bearings useful for motors and gearboxes. Potential applications for extra-miniature bearings include:

  • HDD fan motors
  • HDD spindle motors
  • Pinch rollers
  • Anemometers
  • Flow-meters
  • And more

Extra Miniature Bearings
Our extra-miniature chrome and stainless steel bearings provide lasting performance in these and similarly demanding applications. 

Flanged Bearings

Flanged bearings are categorized based on their shape rather than the size of their rollers. Designed for applications with challenging positioning requirements, flange bearings feature a small lip along their outer ring that helps to mount, position, and lock the component in place. This feature is especially important in high-vibration environments where components may otherwise be prone to slippage. Some common uses for flanged bearings include:

  • Scanner motors
  • Stepping motors
  • Rotary encoders
  • Card readers
  • And other applications

Flanged Bearings
Our inch series (open and shielded) and metric series (open and shielded) include flanged bearings of all sizes to ensure a secure fit in any application. 

Extra Thin Type Bearings

Extra-thin bearings are designed for maximum economy in applications with space limitations. Available in both open and shielded designs, extra-thin ball bearings feature the smallest possible difference between outer and inner diameter, keeping the components narrow and lightweight. The use of small or miniature rollers keeps friction low, although miniaturizing the housing does decrease load capacity compared to standard ball bearings. Applications that benefit from extra-thin ball bearings include:

  • Heat rollers
  • Stepping motors
  • Rotary encoders
  • Robot joints
  • Medical instruments
  • Fishing reels
  • Optical instruments
  • And other applications

Extra Thin Type Bearings
In these applications, extra-thin bearings offer the ideal strength-to-weight ratio to ensure excellent performance while keeping sizes down.

Extra Thin Type Flanged Bearings

Extra-thin flanged bearings combine the lightweight, space-saving features of our extra-thin bearings with the secure positioning of a flanged bearing. Adding a flange to an extra-thin housing facilitates positioning and prevents slippage when exposed to a thrust load. This feature allows extra-thin flanged bearings to be used safely in high-vibration settings, which might otherwise cause too much strain to an extra-thin housing. Examples of these applications include:

  • Scanner motors
  • Stepping motors
  • Rotary encoders
  • Measuring equipment
  • Decelerators
  • Gearboxes
  • And other applications

Extra Thin Type Flanged Bearings
Our extra-thin inch series (open and shielded) and metric series (open and shielded) also include flanged options to manage these more challenging space-constrained applications.

Large Sized Stainless Steel Bearings

Most EZO Precision Ball Bearings are made from a degassed, high-carbon chromium steel, which offers a combination of low torque, low noise, and high efficiency. However, we also offer stainless steel bearings to accommodate applications that expose bearings to moisture or corrosive chemicals, including heavy-duty applications requiring large-diameter rollers. Our bearings are found in standalone medical and industrial equipment of all kinds, including (but not limited to):

  • Food processing equipment
  • Medical machinery
  • Printing presses
  • Textile machinery
  • Pumps

Large Sized Stainless Steel Bearings
EZO’s anti-corrosive, heat-resistant steel bearings are available in sizes reaching 50 mm (1.9685″) in bore diameter to offer lasting performance in these applications.

High-Precision Angular Contact Bearing

Angular contact ball bearings are unique in that their inner and outer rings are displaced relative to one another, creating a contact angle in the direction of the load-bearing axis. This unique configuration allows angular contact bearings to accommodate heavy thrust loads along with radial loads. The larger the contact angle, the greater the axial stiffness and axial load-bearing capability. Our high-precision angular contact bearings are ideal for applications such as (but not limited to):

  • Grinding spindles
  • Live centers
  • High-frequency spindles
  • Boring heads

High Precision Angular Contact Bearings
These components are available with bore diameters from 6-100 mm (0.236-3.937″) and outer diameters of 15-140 mm (0.591-5.512″), with different contact angles to facilitate a range of industrial applications.

Thrust Bearings

Unlike most ball bearings, thrust bearings are designed to withstand both thrust loads and axial loads, but not radial loads. They can rotate at high speeds and support large axial loads during operation. Our thrust bearings are available with or without a raceway and are commonly found within industrial machining equipment, with typical use cases including (but not limited to):

  • Main axis of machining tools
  • Jacks
  • Turntables for vertical turning machines

Thrust Bearings
Stainless steel thrust bearings in both series are also available on request.

Selecting the Right Bearings For Your Application

Selecting the right bearing for your application requires a careful consideration of rotating speed, load conditions and temperature in order to prevent premature bearing failure.

For more information, see our “Basic Rules for Selecting & Handling Bearings”

Ball bearings are critical components across many commercial, industrial, and scientific applications, accommodating rotation with extremely low friction and high durability. SPB-USA, L.L.C. is proud to offer US OEMs access to Sapporo Precision’s line of EZO ball bearings, which are well-recognized for their premium construction and superior performance characteristics. 

Whether your application calls for extra-miniature flanged bearings or large, open ball bearings, Sapporo Precision’s line of EZO Precision Ball Bearings contains exactly what you need for reliable and lasting performance. Sapporo’s ISO 9000-, 9001-, and 14001-certified facilities manufacture ball bearings to the highest standards of quality, with clients trusting EZO bearings to support everything from sensitive measuring devices to medical equipment and high-powered motors.

To learn more about EZO Precision Ball Bearings, contact our team or request a quote today.