Celebrating 100 years of the spherical roller bearing
2019 June 08, 09:00 GMT
The spherical roller bearing, designed to help engineers accommodate heavy radial and axial loads in applications prone to misalignment or shaft deflections, celebrates its 100th birthday this year thanks to SKF.
Originally developed in 1919 by SKF engineer, Arvid Palmgren, the spherical roller bearing has since made its mark worldwide.
Created to complement the self-aligning ball bearing, due to its ability to accommodate misalignment under heavy loads, the initial SKF design has now become part of the largest family of products in the industry.
On the fabled Las Vegas Strip in the US, the High Roller ferris wheel contains two of the largest spherical roller bearings ever produced by SKF, each weighing in at 8.8 tonnes!
SKF spherical roller bearings can be found in many applications, including some where you might not expect them. A good example is the Bahrain World Trade Center, where three tower wind turbines, each 29 metres in diameter, are architecturally installed between the two 240-metre-high (50-storey) towers and generate 1,300 MWh per year.
Another fascinating application is the rebirth of the Zeppelin after 60 years of absence following the Hindenburg disaster. SKF was brought in by ZF, the gearbox manufacturer for the Zeppelin NT, to help the new and improved airships to propel forward.
Closer to home is a bearing housing solution SKF UK developed for CSO Deep Blue, a deep-sea pipe laying vessel owned and operated by Coflexip Stena Offshore. Rigid and flexible pipe lines of various diameters are laid from a pair of huge reels, at the hub of which are two spherical roller bearings weighing 9.5 tonnes and 5.5 tonnes.
SKF offers an extensive range of spherical roller bearings that deliver a number of benefits for specific operating conditions. For example, operators in contaminated environments in heavy industrial applications have increased their bearing rating life by up to four times with sealed SKF Explorer spherical roller bearings. Those working in the harshest of environments have benefitted from the SKF Three-Barrier Solution, a cost-effective bundle of products that can extend bearing service life without complicated and expensive sealing arrangements. New dimension gearbox design has even become possible thanks to the long service life and high performance of SKF Explorer spherical roller bearings.
David Oliver, Channel and Platform Development Manager Bearings and Units at SKF comments: “From the very start, SKF has taken the lead in the development of self-aligning bearings. We introduced spherical roller bearings in 1919 and have been consistently improving them ever since. Building on Arvid Palmgren’s original design, we now offer engineers the widest range of both open and sealed spherical roller bearings in the industry. With the continued push for high performance in ever more challenging environments, it will be interesting to see what the next 100 years of development generates!”