Developments in ceramic bearing balls

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Developments in ceramic bearing balls

More than 400 years ago, the first industrially produced ceramic balls were marble balls used as cannonballs, jetsam and children’s toys. The advent of new engineering ceramics in the 1960s and 1970s transformed these humble marble balls into high-performance ceramic bearing balls, which are being tested in jet engines and commercialized for machine tool spindles, electric motors, Formula 1 racing cars and pumps. Recent new hybrid bearing business can be found in railway applications and renewable energy applications such as windmill generators. SKF remains in the forefront of ceramic bearing ball development, industrialization, application and standardization. Development work is still going on, especially in the larger ball size range. Silicon nitride bearing balls up to a 47.625 mm diameter are already commercially available. On the ceramic material side, there are opportunities to better tailor new materials to specific applications. This will save cost and also help the environment, as less energy-consuming processes are established for new production units to fulfil the rowing demands for these new materials.

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