Bearings are what make the world go around. Without them, many modern machines could not exist. And without heat treatment, bearings could not do their job.
Bearings take a variety of forms for different types of jobs. They include air, babbit, ball, magnetic and roller. Did you know that the first practical caged roller bearing was invented in 1760? Caged ball and roller bearings prevent the bearing elements from rubbing against each other, which causes additional friction.
Steel developments in the 1800s transformed the manufacture and use of rolling-element bearings. Anti-friction rolling-element bearings are manufactured from two basic types of steels: through-hardened and case-carburized. Through-hardened components, as the name implies, have the same hardness all the way through the part. Case-carburized components, on the other hand, denote a hard surface but a softer interior. These bearings are typically case hardened by carburizing the surface followed by a conventional austenitize, quench and temper hardening process.
So, what exactly does it take to make a bearing? To gain further insight, Industrial Heating asked expert Mike Schneider, FASM, The Timken Company. Here’s what he had to say.
“Bearings are, for many, an unseen, taken-for-granted item. It’s just part of the package you buy. In actuality, a bearing is a highly engineered product that needs to be matched to the performance requirements of the application. They also require a lot of attention, and a lot of work, for proper heat treatment. But a well-designed process will yield good, consistent results and reward you with a long-term relationship with bearing manufacturers.
“While the market offers polymer, ceramic and nonferrous bearings for a wide variety of industries, this article will focus solely on heat-treated steel bearings used in non-aerospace applications.”
Click on the links below to see what else Schneider has to say on bearing production.