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Sleeve vs. Ball Bearings: What’s the Difference?

As machine components, bearings serve multiple functions to moving parts. It constrains relative motion, restricting it to the component’s desired motion. They only move toward the set motion paths using low friction.

Various types of bearings exist among machines, especially when they’re rotating. However, should you go for ball bearings or sleeve bearings?

In this guide, you’ll learn some of the pros and cons to help you decide if these bearings are right for your product assembly. Read on and find out:

What Are Sleeve Bearings?

Sleeve bearings often come in different names, like plain bearings or slide bearings. It has a bearing surface with no rolling elements. The shaft slides in the desired motion while the sleeve bearing provides the necessary support and reduces friction.

Among the bearing types, it has the simplest design. Sleeve bearings are often present in areas with high load requirements.

Pros and Cons of Sleeve Bearings

Sleeve bearings shine in low-temperature environments. When used in colder areas, these bearings last longer. On the other hand, their lifespan drops when used in high-temperature environments.

With its simplicity in design and form, it also makes the sleeve bearing cheaper than other bearings. It also needs lower lubrication to function well. Sleeve bearings are also quieter by about one to three decibels.

Sleeve bearings need contact on the inner shaft’s entire surface. It causes more friction compared to ball bearings. Sleeve bearings also suffer from a shorter lifespan when placed in a non-vertical position.

What Are Ball Bearings?

Ball bearings have two bearing races, keeping the balls in place. It ensures the balls remain in place while acting as rolling elements. They also lighten the load when spinning as the ball spins when one of the bearing races is in motion.

Ball bearings reduce the friction for the axle or shaft. However, due to its smaller opening, it has a lower load capacity.

Pros and Cons of Ball Bearings

Ball bearings are often more heat tolerant compared to sleeve bearings. Positioning is also not a problem with ball bearings. They can either be horizontal or vertical without issue.

The inner balls reduce the friction because they also move while the bearing races move.

The downside is how noisy they are. They also lose efficiency and wear down quickly, making them progressively louder over time. Ball bearings are also more expensive.

Hybrid Bearings

An interesting mix between the sleeve and ball bearings would be the spherical roller bearing. Instead of balls, it uses rollers to help with the motion. This design ensures it provides low friction and high load capacities.

Ball Bearings or Spherical Bearings? Learn More Today

Should you buy ball bearings or spherical bearings? Knowing the differences between the two allows you to pick according to the right features for your work environment.

However, knowing the right bearings for your assembly line is the first step. Look for a reputable vendor to get the most out of your investment.

Did you find this guide helpful? Check out our other guides now.

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