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Self-Aligning Ball Bearing
Summary of selling points of Self-Aligning Ball Bearings in which the friction is minimized and misalignment is adjusted accordingly.

Introduction of Self-Aligning Ball Bearings

A ball bearing is basically a rolling-element bearing that utilizes balls to ensure a division between the bearing races. In 1907, Sven Wingqvist invented the multi-row Self-Aligning ball bearing. A self aligning ball bearing is a type of ball bearing constructed in a particular way. The self-aligning ball bearing consists of an outer ring with a spherical raceway. The outer ring of the Self-Aligning ball bearing includes an inner ring and ball assembly. This construction enables the Self-Aligning ball bearing to endure a small angular misalignment. These misalignments may occur due to improper mounting, shaft, or housing deflections. The self aligning ball bearing was particularly used in bearing arrangements with exceptionally long shafts. An example of this is transmission shafts in textile industries. Although there is a small disadvantage of Self-Aligning ball bearings, they have a limited load rating. The radius of the outer raceway is much larger than the radius of the ball. So, the Self-Aligning ball bearing contains an outer raceway with slightly low osculation.

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Applications of Self-Aligning Ball Bearing Are as Follows:

  • Cereal Mills
  • Staple machines (used for magazines)
  • Carton boards
  • Industrial fans
  • Process pumps used in power plants and refineries
  • Twisting machines for the production of threads
  • Ring spinning machines that produce yarn
  • Fruit farm shredders
  • Centrifugal separators
  • Luggage conveyor systems
Applications of Self-Aligning Ball Bearing
Self-Aligning Ball Bearing

What is a Self-Aligning Ball Bearing?

A bearing is a mechanical component that guides the rotation of a rotating assembly. Therefore, the bearing can let only one element rotate in terms of another. A Self-Aligning ball bearing adequately adjusts misalignments as compared to normal bearings. During this process, the Self-Aligning ball bearing tends to avoid increasing heat or friction. In addition, the Self-Aligning ball bearing can tolerate both static and dynamic misalignments. They also provide good performance at high speeds. These bearings must have high precision while allowing the equipment to move efficiently at various speed levels and on specific loads. They must offer minimal noise and vibration while maximum durability and precision.

The Design of Self-Aligning Ball Bearing

In particular, Self-Aligning ball bearings are preferable for applications and situations where errors cause misalignment in shaft deflection or mounting. Keeping in view the small capacity, the Self-Aligning ball bearing should only be used in light axial load applications. However, in cases where the axial load carrying capacity is not enough, spherical roller bearings can be used as they have similar properties to Self-Aligning ball bearings. These bearings are adjusted with a polyamide cage or a pressed steel cage. The polyamide cage is indicated on the surface of the package of the Self-Aligning ball bearing.

The Design of Self-Aligning Ball Bearing
Self-Aligning-bearing-design

Important Considerations

  • The maximum angle permitted for misalignment is 2.5°in the 12 and 22 series. Similarly, in the 13 and 23 series, the maximum angle allowed for misalignment is 3°. As the Self-Aligning ball bearing operates in a fully misaligned condition, it is necessary to take proper care and provide adequate clearance between the Self-Aligning bearing and the surrounding structure.
  • As the speed increases, there are chances for the misaligned bearings to become noisy. The practical misalignment of the Self-Aligningball bearings may be less than the actual maximum misalignment due to noise-level restraints.
  • A temperature of less than 120° should be used for Self-Aligningball bearings with a polyamide cage.
  • The bearings with tapered bore after mounting make it difficult to measure the running clearance.  Sufficient experience and technique are required to mount Self-Aligning ball bearings with a tapered bore.

Manufacturing of Self-Aligning Ball Bearing

Self-Aligning ball bearings fall under the category of ball bearings which allows a smooth and friction-less rotary motion while adjusting small misalignments. Commonly, Self-Aligning ball bearings are made of steel. However, materials such as silicon nitride, plastics, or glass can also be used in manufacturing. Every year, millions of ball bearings are produced, commonly, steel bearings, among which Self-Aligning ball bearings occupy a great portion. The bearings are given an almost perfectly round shape. Further polishing enhances their mirror-like finishing, which provides precision in rotary motions. These Self-Aligning ball bearings are mainly used in machines, power transmissions, motors, power tools and many other applications.

The manufacturing of the Self-Aligning ball bearings is undergone a multi-step process that transforms the pellet of unhardened steel into hardened, rounded, and polished fine balls.

Self-Aligning ball bearing metal balls
The metal bearing balls, also those that are Self-Aligning, are manufactured from steel wire or rod. The wire/rod is cut into small pieces called slugs. This is phase one of the process. The material in the slug combines to form a larger volume compared to the finished ball itself. In this phase, the material is not much hard; it is a little malleable, which is necessary for the slug to form a spherical shape in the proceeding manufacturing step. The excess material is reduced in the following steps, removing the extra volume.
Self-Aligning ball bearing
Heading is another name for a cold-foaming process. The slugs are placed inside a header machine where the balls go through this cold-foaming process. There are two semi-spherically shaped dies; between them, the slug is placed and shaped under 10 to 20 tons of pressure. It is a high-speed process and can cause much noise, especially in the case of large diameter balls; the machine operators may require ear protection. The heading mechanism transforms the slug into a spherical shaped ‘raw’ ball. Still, some excess material is left that needs to be eliminated.
Self-Aligning ball bearing Flashing
The flashing process is the stage in which the excess material, called flash or burrs, needs to be removed. This method is also referred to as filing, as the excess material needs to be filed away. The flash is removed; however, the metal is still soft and not perfectly round in shape. The manufacturers use two distinct machining variations, though both involve rolling the balls between metal plates. These are as follows: 1.Flash is cut off by passing balls between the grooves inside the two metal plates. One metal plate is stationary while the other is rotating. The flash can be removed by using heavy-cast iron plates that rotate in parallel directions and rolling the balls between these plates.
Self-Aligning ball bearing Soft Grinding
In the next phase, often producers of Self-Aligning ball bearings put the balls through a process of soft grinding. The balls are not hardened yet; hence, as the name suggests, it is soft. This process is somewhat similar to the flashing process. The difference between them is that the soft grinding method uses an abrasive grinding stone in place of one of the metal plates.
Self-Aligning ball bearing Heat Treating
After the balls have turned out to be properly round and free from excess material, a heating-treatment process is initiated to harden and strengthen the balls. At approximately 1500° F, the balls are heated and then slaked in an oil bath. Once again, they are heated, but at a lower temperature of about 325° F. consequently, a hard-formed ball is made.
Self-Aligning ball bearing Descaling
During the heat treatment, the balls go through discolouration and are covered with deposits of oxide. Therefore, the next phase consists of the descaling process, where the oxide deposits are removed. This involves using chemical agents such as acidic compounds to remove the layers that build upon the balls.
Self-Aligning ball bearing Grinding
In the manufacturing process of Self-Aligning ball bearings, the next step is to grind the balls to the correct size and give them a proper round geometry, as now the balls have hardened and are close to the end of the production process. The balls are rolled between a fine grit grinding wheel and a steel plate. This process is somehow similar to the soft grinding process.
Self-Aligning ball bearing Lapping
The manufacturing process ends with this last step, i.e., lapping the balls. The process of lapping is referred to as superfinishing process, which improves the geometry and surface finish of the balls while removing the remaining small amounts of material to give that tight, required tolerance to the balls. Again, two hardened steel plates, one rotating and one stationary are placed, between which the balls are rotated at a low speed. As a result, the balls attain a mirror-like and perfectly round finish.
Self-Aligning ball bearing Washing and Sizing
Finally, the manufacturing process has ended, and now the balls are washed to remove any remaining residues. The clean balls are examined for any scratches or damages. Although all the balls have the same outer diameter, still tiny variations may occur. Similarly, the geometric tolerances of the Self-Aligning ball bearings are defined by the ball grade. The grade number also outlines the balls’ sphericity and their diameter alterations—the lower the grade number, the stronger the tolerance. As the variations between the balls are quite small, the tolerances are very high.
Self-Aligning Ball Bearings

Standards for Manufacturing Self-Aligning Ball Bearings

Standards for Manufacturing Self-Aligning Ball Bearings
Standards for Manufacturing Self-Aligning Ball Bearings
  • ABMA STD 10A – Metal Balls for Unground Bearings.
  • ISO 3290-1 – Rolling bearings – Balls – Part 1: Steel Balls
  • ASTM F2215 – Standard Specification for Balls, Bearings, Ferrous, and Nonferrous for use etc.
  • JSA – JIS B 1501 – Rolling Bearings – Balls
  • DIN 5401 – Balls for general industrial use

In producing Self-Aligning ball bearings, a spherical outer raceway is used. This permits misalignment, housing defamations and shaft deflections, which results in a bearing that can be used in even potentially hazardous situations. A good feature of Self-Aligning ball bearings is that they generate less or no friction compared to other categories of bearings. This feature enables it to run at high speeds without accumulating a lot of heat. Consequently, Self-Aligning ball bearings are more appropriate for low or medium-sized loads.

Other characteristics of Self-Aligning ball bearings are:

  • The design consists of double rows
  • A cylindrical bore or tapered bore is inculcated in the design
  • If the bearing has a tapered bore, there is an option to mount it with an adapter sleeve.

    Self-Aligning ball bearing
    Self-Aligning ball bearing

Self-Aligning ball bearings have many beneficial uses, and several industries prefer using these bearings. Among these industries, some are as follows:

  • Heavy machinery
  • Mining
  • Textile
  • Agriculture
  • Power machinery

When problems arise in your application due to misalignment, it becomes quite difficult to function efficiently. Hence, opting for Self-Aligning ball bearings can help you solve such issues and provide smooth processes.

In order to choose the correct ball bearing, certain significant aspects need to be considered. The first is to reflect the load that the bearing can support. The two types of loads are:

  • Axial load, which is corresponding to the axis of rotation
  • Radial loadis at right angles to the axis

All types of bearings are particularly designed to support axial or radial load. There is also a form of bearings that can support both loads, commonly known as a combined load. In this case, tapered roller bearings can be used. In contrast, high radial loads can be tolerated by a cylindrical roller bearing. However, a ball bearing is a correct choice if support is required for lighter loads. This is where rotation speed and factors of misalignment intercede. To solve this problem, Self-Aligning ball bearings are the best choice. A choice of a higher speed is often made without considering the load requirements. In such cases, misalignment or shaft deflections may occur and using other bearings such as double row ball bearings can cause problems. Hence, Self-Aligning ball bearings are suitable.

Paying attention to the construction and properties of the bearings is significant. Insert, and spherical bearings are better options to support these misalignments. In this regard, Self-Aligning ball bearings that consist of automatic alignment must be prioritised. The defects caused by installation errors or shaft bending can be corrected by these bearings. Self aligning Ball Bearing price is one of the big factor when chooosing this bearing.

  • Due to lower operating temperatures, grease life is extended, and higher speeds are enabled.
  • One of the self aligning ball bearing advantages is that the maintenance and operating costs are low.
  • Greater service life
  • Less noise and vibration levels
  • Productivity and efficiency are increased
  • Higher energy efficiency
  • Extremely less friction
  • As seals are highly effective, the contaminants are kept out while the grease is safely stored inside the bearing, especially during installation and operation.

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Self-Aligning Ball Bearings in the Textile Industry

Self-Aligning Ball Bearings in the Textile Industry

The spinning and fabric processing machines contain a ring shaft and guide roller bearings in the industry operations, both exposed to active misalignment. These elements are also vulnerable to water, chemicals, and steam. Due to varying fabric widths, different loads are exerted on the bearings and roller shafts. Such circumstances can cause sudden breakdowns and stops, which can inversely affect the quality and bottom line of the fabric.

Relative to the above situation, Self-Aligning ball bearings are suitable for the processing and functionality of the textile industry. The Self-Aligning ball bearings are designed in a manner that they can adjust a maximum of 3 misalignments while providing smooth performance. Also, when uneven loading occurs across the roller shafts, these Self-Aligning ball bearings can easily manage it while keeping friction at a bare minimum.

As Self-Aligning ball bearings produce less friction and heat, they can support higher speeds, unlike other rolling bearings. A minimum load is required, which can eradicate sliding during start-up and light-load environments. Thus, reliability increases, the risk of damage is reduced, and the bearing service life is extended.

Why should I choose a Self-Aligning ball bearing?

If your machinery requires high speed and no misalignment to run efficiently, then Self-Aligning ball bearings are the correct choice. These bearings generate extremely low friction, enabling them to run fast at higher speeds without heating up. Furthermore, the damages caused by shaft deflections and misalignment affect the equipment’s working and the quality of the produce. Self-Aligning ball bearings can tolerate misalignments, hence extending the service life.

What is the purpose of Self-Aligning ball bearings?

Mainly, Self-Aligning ball bearings are designed to solve the problem of angular displacement or misalignment between the shaft and bearing housing. The misalignment can be adjusted internally or externally, depending on the situation.

What is the solution if, in case, the load-bearing capacity of self-aligning ball bearings is insufficient?

Spherical roller bearings should be used instead of Self-Aligning ball bearings for such applications, as they have a similar self-aligning feature.

How does the bearings’ life extend, and does its performance improve?

One must use the correct tools and techniques to practice proper maintenance of the bearings at every point of the bearing’s life cycle. Small practices can enhance the service life and increase the productivity and efficiency of the plant and equipment.

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