Applications for Thrust Bearings
Thrust bearings are rotary bearings intended to withstand axial loads while preventing motion in a specific direction. They are critical components in heavy equipment with high loads and speeds to ensure efficient and dependable operation. These units are also available in various materials and can be customized for specific applications.
This article will take a closer look at how thrust bearings work and their different industrial applications.
How Thrust Bearings Work
Also called axial bearings, thrust bearings are composed of two flat surfaces (flat washers or a pair of thrust plates) separated by rolling elements (balls or rollers). These elements enable smooth movement while also reducing friction between the two surfaces. They also work by providing a layer to guide and support axial loads.
After an axial load is applied to one of the surfaces, the rolling elements distribute it evenly across the bearing’s surface area. This allows for smooth rotation while reducing the risk of wear and tear on the surrounding parts. In addition, these components are often made from ceramic and various metals to meet specific requirements for strength, durability, and corrosion resistance.
Industrial Uses of Thrust Bearings
Generally, bearings are an essential part of many industrial processes that rely on efficient and reliable operation due to their efficient structure and versatility. The following are some of the most common applications of axial bearings:
Axial bearings support the loads generated by manufacturing equipment, such as extruders, mixers, and stamping machines. For example, extruders and mixers have components to support the heavy forces generated by the screws, barrels, blades, or impellers that process the raw materials. The bearings also ensure that the punch moves in a linear direction and is not deflected by the force of the stamping.
Pumps and Compressors
As axial movement can cause excessive wear and tear, bearings are used in centrifugal pumps to hold the impeller in position. They also aid the absorption of high axial loads generated by the piston or diaphragm in other pumps and compressors.
Another industrial application is gas and steam turbines, often found in power generation facilities. They help the rotors operate smoothly and efficiently while decreasing maintenance costs and machine failure.
Automotive and Aerospace Components
Axial bearings are used in automotive transmissions to control the loads between the ring and pinion gears in differential gears. In the aerospace industry, they support the loads from the propellers, turbines, and other rotating components of airplane engines. Additionally, they are utilized in aircraft landing gear assemblies for takeoff and landing.
An essential component of propeller shafts in the marine industry, axial bearings are designed to endure harsh marine environments. These include saltwater exposure, high pressure, and varying temperatures. They also help to reduce the strain on the propeller shaft and improve its efficiency, ensuring the vessel’s reliable and smooth operation.
Propeller shafts are also vulnerable to external forces, which can cause misalignment between the shaft and the engine, resulting in costly repairs and downtime. The axial components are often designed to be self-aligning to address this issue. This means they can tolerate some misalignment without causing damage to any unit.
Mining and Construction
Since heavy equipment is often utilized to extract and transport materials in mining and construction, axial bearings are crucial in these industries. They are especially useful in conveyor systems, where they support the weight of the belt and the materials being transported. They are also employed in crushers to help stabilize the main shaft, which is in charge of crushing hard rocks or materials.
Partner With SPB-USA for Your High-Quality Thrust Bearings
SPB-USA has over 50 years of experience delivering high-precision miniature and medium-sized bearings for various industrial uses! Our thrust ball bearings are offered with or without raceways and are available in different sizes and load ratings to cater to specific application requirements. We are also certified in ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 14001, ensuring that our products meet the highest standards.