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Which bearings for high-load applications ?

🔗 Mechanical transmission

Date of publication : 24/09/2023

Reading time : 3 Minutes


High-load applications require robust bearings specially designed to withstand high forces while ensuring smooth rotation.

A bearing is a mechanical component whose function is to guide a rotating assembly. Rolling thus allows one element to rotate relative to another. For this reason, bearings are high-precision components that allow equipment to move at different speeds while efficiently supporting large loads. They must offer high precision and durability, as well as the ability to operate at high speeds with minimal noise and vibration. There are different types of bearings designed to support different types of loads.

How to choose a bearing?

There are several important factors to consider when choosing bearings. The first factor to consider is the load the bearing can support. There are two types of charges:

  • Axial load : Parallel to the axis of rotation
  • Radial load : Perpendicular to the axis

Each type of bearing is specifically designed to support axial or radial loads. Some bearings can even support both loads: this is called a combined load. Another factor to consider is the rotation speed. Some bearings can handle high speeds.

What is the axial load?

The radial load acts perpendicular to the axis of rotation of the bearing, along the raceway of the internal ball or roller. It is primarily responsible for the bearing's ability to support vertical or horizontal loads applied laterally on the shaft or axle, such as the weight of a machine, cutting forces or braking loads.

What is the radial load?

Axial load manifests itself as a force acting directly along the axis of rotation of the bearing. Its main function is to support loads that are applied in the same direction as the shaft or axle, such as pushing or pulling forces. These two types of loads are essential for the design and efficient operation of bearings in various industrial and mechanical applications.


The main difference between these two types of loads is their direction. Radial loads are applied perpendicular to the bearing axis, while axial loads are applied along the bearing axis. There are different types of bearings designed to support different types of loads. For example, ball bearings are typically used to support radial loads, while tapered roller bearings are used to support radial, axial, and combined loads.

Advantages of roller bearings

Low friction : The optimized design of the roller faces and the surface finish of the shoulder reduce friction, which reduces heating and wear. This helps maintain a stable preload and reduces operating noise.

Long Service Life : Special bearing raceway profiles and logarithmic bearing raceway profiles distribute the load effectively, reduce roller end stresses, and improve resistance to misalignment and shaft deflection, compared to traditional profiles conventional.

Improved Operational Reliability : Optimized contact surfaces promote the formation of a hydrodynamic lubricating film, improving operational reliability.

Consistency of Roller Profiles and Dimensions : Rollers are manufactured to very tight tolerances for optimal load distribution, reduced noise and vibration, and precise preload.

Rigid Mount : Rigid mounting can be achieved by using two opposing tapered roller bearings with preload.

Reduced break-in period : Bearings significantly reduce the break-in period, minimizing wear and temperature spikes through improved design and proper installation and lubrication.

Separable and interchangeable : Tapered roller bearings are separable, making assembly, disassembly and maintenance inspections easier. Bearing components of the same size are interchangeable.

The different types of ball bearings

There are many ball bearings with different characteristics :

Bearings ball angular contact : Angular contact ball bearings are characterized by the presence of an angle formed by the contact points of the rings and the balls. This inclination allows the system to support axial loads and combined loads. The axial load capacity of these components increases as the contact angle increases.

Bearings rigid ball bearings : Deep groove ball bearings are versatile components. These are the most common and widespread bearings in various applications. They have deep grooves in the raceways and are characterized by low friction and high rotation speed. These types of bearings are capable of functioning properly even with misalignments.

Bearings ball joint : Self-aligning ball bearings consist of two rows of balls, a spherical raceway in the outer ring and two races in the outer ring. They are insensitive to angular defects. They are therefore suitable for difficult alignment cases.


Which bearing makes the most noise between the two types?

Bearings roller generally make more noise than ball bearings. This is because the rollers are larger and heavier than the balls, and therefore generate more friction when sliding on the raceways. Additionally, rollers tend to be less sealed than balls, allowing more foreign particles to enter the bearing and increase noise.

However, there are certain types of roller bearings that are quieter than others. For example, tapered roller bearings are generally quieter than cylindrical roller bearings.


Are there any special maintenance requirements ?

The choice of lubricant is essential to guarantee the performance and durability of the bearings. Lubrication serves several important functions, including :

  • Promotes movement
  • Avoid wear and premature fatigue
  • Reduce internal friction
  • Ensure the sealing of the bearings against external objects
  • Reduce operating noise
  • Protect the bearing against corrosion


Generally, lubrication grease is simple, effective and requires little maintenance and is the ideal solution. However, it is recommended to use the same lubrication system as the machine in which the bearing is integrated, if it operates with oil. The choice between grease and oil depends largely on the load, the type of operation (continuous or intermittent) and the rotational speed of the bearing. Under heavy loads, continuous operation and high rotational speed, oil is the ideal solution to ensure the proper functioning of the bearing system.

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