Ceramic Ball Bearings

Benefits of Ceramic Ball Bearings

Ceramic ball bearings are being used in a number of applications, including sports equipment, computers and industrial machinery. Their light weight, less friction and high durability make them an ideal choice for many uses.Ceramic ball bearings are typically made from silicon nitride, which has greater hardness than steel balls and longer ball life. They also have smoother surface finishes than steel balls, and better thermal properties.

Lighter Weight

The lighter weight of a ceramic ball can make it more comfortable to hold and manipulate. It also reduces centrifugal loading and skidding, which allows the bearing to operate faster without sacrificing reliability.Ceramic balls are made of a wide range of materials, including alumina, silicon nitride, alumina oxide, zirconia oxide and silicon carbide. These ceramics offer advantages like high hardness, lower friction and higher corrosion resistance compared to metal balls.A ceramic ball is also a better choice in applications where the bearings must withstand high temperatures or pressure shock. This makes them ideal for use in a variety of industries, from oil refineries and petrochemical plants to wind turbines.Another advantage of using a ceramic ball is its superior strength. It is significantly tougher than steel balls, and can withstand impacts at higher speeds.The addition of yttria to zirconia increases its strength and lowers the chance that it will crack, making it an ideal choice for many bearing and roller applications.Depending on the size, the ceramic ball can weigh anywhere from 40% to 60% less than a similar sized steel ball. This reduced weight can help a hybrid bearing operate up to 20% faster than a conventional bearing.In some cases, the lower weight of a ceramic ball can even help it survive higher operating temperatures than steel balls. This is a significant advantage, as it can extend the life of the bearing and prevent failures at high temperatures.At Boca Bearings, we stock a variety of ceramic balls that can be used in a variety of applications. These include float or level sensing, flow metering, gaging or alignment, valves, sprayers and pumps, and pollution or vapor control systems.When choosing the right ball for your application, be sure to consider its tolerance and finish. A higher quality ceramic ball will have a smooth finish and be “rounder” than a lower grade.A high quality ceramic ball will have a tolerance that is greater than 50 millionths of an inch and will have a surface finish that is incredibly smooth. The smooth finish and increased “roundness” of a ceramic ball will help the bearing to operate smoothly, reducing lubrication costs and improving the life of the bearing.

Less Friction

Compared to bearings made from steel, ceramic ball bearings offer a significant reduction in friction. This translates into lower operating temperatures, less wear, and shorter maintenance intervals.A ceramic ball can weigh up to 40% less than a similar steel ball, and it can operate 20% to 40% faster because the outer race groove exerts less force inward against the ball as it spins. In turn, this reduces the friction between the race and ball and lowers rolling resistance.These characteristics result in a higher spindle speed, reduced vibration and increased production quality. Moreover, they increase efficiency and productivity as well as reduce energy consumption and operating costs.Ceramic bearings are used in a wide range of applications, including turbines, jet engines, dental equipment, and electric motors. They are also often used as agitator balls in chemical or industrial applications, as they can withstand abrasion and corrosion.Another benefit of ceramic bearings is their high stiffness. This is due to their high Young’s modulus, which is about 50% higher than steel. The result is a 15 to 20% increase in rigidity, which improves accuracy.This makes it possible to withstand centrifugal forces and other shocks, even in high-speed applications like turbines. It also means that the outer ring and balls do not heat up as quickly, which increases durability.Lastly, ceramic balls can be made of a variety of materials. Some of these include silicon nitride (Si3N4), zirconia, and alumina oxide.These balls can withstand extreme temperatures and can be used in areas where lubrication is not available, such as space applications. They also resist arcing and galling.

Higher Stiffness

Ceramic ball bearings have a higher stiffness than steel, which makes them less likely to deflect under load. This is a great benefit for manufacturers that use ceramic bearings in their equipment.Unlike steel balls, ceramic ball bearings are non-porous and do not absorb moisture or rust. This is especially useful for applications that require corrosion-resistant properties.Another advantage of ceramic bearings is that they do not have to be lubricated. This allows them to withstand the harshest conditions, including high temperatures and extreme pressures.This translates to long life and reduced operating costs for manufacturers that rely on ceramic bearings. Manufacturers also use these bearings in space exploration and other industries where high speeds, low friction, and extended life are important.In addition to ceramics having a higher stiffness, they are also more resistant to fracture than metals and polymers. This means they will resist cracking more easily, so they are a better choice for critical applications like ballistic armor and space mirrors.Furthermore, they have a higher hardness than steel. This makes them a good choice for parts that may come in contact with sharp tools, like drills and cutters.The higher hardness of ceramics also means they are more resistant to thermal expansion, making them an excellent choice for rolling elements in high precision bearings. This is particularly true of the bearing’s inner and outer rings, as they have a much lower thermal expansion than steel rolling elements.For rolling elements that are designed to roll against a spherical surface, ceramic balls are also a good choice. This is because they have a much smaller thermal expansion than steel balls, which helps to minimize cold welding.In some cases, you can even reduce preload with a ceramic bearing. This is especially possible in the case of small size steel balls, which are often used in bearings for machines where it is difficult to lubricate the balls properly.Whether you are looking to replace your bearings or need them designed for a specific application, CoorsTek can help. We offer full and hybrid ceramic bearings to meet a wide range of requirements, including increased speed and reduced friction.

Longer Life

When compared to steel ball bearings, ceramic balls have longer life spans. This is because the harder ceramic material allows the bearings to withstand more stress and force than steel ones can. This is why manufacturers rely on ceramics for applications that require higher speeds, increased life and more.In fact, many bicycle parts rely on the use of ceramic ball bearings to save energy and prolong the life of the bike’s components. For example, CeramicSpeed claims its bearings can reduce power consumption in a bicycle’s hub and pulley wheel by 6-9 watts.Unlike steel, ceramic balls do not require lubrication to function properly. They are also inherently low friction, and do not need to be sealed to prevent contaminants from entering the system.However, the use of lubricant can increase speed and performance in some cases. That’s why a popular hybrid ceramic bearing configuration uses silicon nitride balls with 52100 steel rings.This combination of ceramic and steel offers high-speed performance with better tolerance than a single ceramic ball. It also helps maintain the preload and contact angle of the bearing over a wide range of operating temperatures.Another benefit to the combination of metal and ceramic is that it helps prevent electric pitting, which occurs when current passes through metal bearings. This can cause arcing and damage the bearings.While this can be a serious concern for some manufacturers, it is not a problem with CeramicSpeed’s hybrid bearings. According to Paul Sollenberger, senior technical & sales education specialist, the brand’s ceramic ball bearings are manufactured in a process called hot isostatic pressing.In this process, the ceramic powder is condensed and compressed for around 30 hours. It then is cooled and released to prevent it from shattering or becoming brittle.The resulting ceramic ball is hard, highly wear-resistant and rustproof. This makes it a good choice for applications that require resistance to corrosion and extreme temperatures.While a ceramic ball may be a little more expensive than a standard steel one, it is worth the investment for the long life of the product. The higher hardness, lower density and decreased thermal expansion can lead to a longer service life for the bearing.