Bearing Trivia

Bearings Made Using Advanced Materials and Lubricants: Bearings all around you

As we have explained in all the columns up to now, bearings are used in a wide variety of machines, supporting the rotation of the shaft and helping it rotate more smoothly.
In recent years science has been advancing so that the functionality of machines has been improving dramatically, and more and more new machines are being created. These machines do not use the kind of conventional bearings that have been used up to this point, but rather use special "bearings Made Using Advanced Materials and Lubricants".

In this part, we will introduce "bearings Made Using Advanced Materials and Lubricants" , which support our daily lives, under the three headings of "comfortable lifestyle," "healthy lifestyle," and "rich and enjoyable lifestyle."

Bearings Made Using Advanced Materials and Lubricants: Bearings all around you

1. What arebearings Made Using Advanced Materials and Lubricants?

What kind of devices are we talking about when we say "bearings Made Using Advanced Materials and Lubricants"?

The components used in most bearings are made of metal, and for the lubricant either lubricating oil or grease is used.

But these general bearings, when used in environments such as those where:

  • electricity is generated;
  • magnetic force is generated; or
  • they can be easily corroded by substances like acids and alkalis,

quickly break down, or become such that they cannot rotate smoothly.

JTEKT offers the EXSEV (Extreme Special Environment) Series of special-environment bearings that were designed with advanced materials and lubricants, so that they can be used even in environments such as those listed above. For more details, please take a look at the EXSEV Series page!
* EXSEV is a registered trademark of JTEKT.

Product information: Special Environment Bearings

Allow us to introduce some archetypal bearings Made Using Advanced Materials and Lubricants.

2. Bearings for air conditioning that support our comfortable lifestyle

Fig. 1: An air conditioner's outdoor unitFig. 1: An air conditioner's outdoor unit

The outdoor unit of an air conditioner is fitted with a fan to pump air outside the room, and this fan is supported by bearings.
Recent years have seen an increase in the number of (inverter) motors that control motor rotation speed freely. In such motors, voltage from high-frequency current is generated during operation, due to the specific characteristics of the motors.
The voltage builds up and, once it exceeds a certain amount, an electric current is passed through the inside of the bearing and the bearing can be damaged. This phenomenon is known as "electric pitting"

For more information on electric pitting, please check out the following page.

Bearing failures, causes and countermeasures

For this reason, we use bearings with balls (rolling elements) made of ceramic materials, which have a high insulation (electric current doesn't pass through it well).

Fig. 2: A bearing for use in the outdoor unit fan of an air conditioner
Fig. 2: A bearing for use in the outdoor unit fan of an air conditioner

Special Environment Bearings: Hybrid Ceramic Bearings

Additionally, ceramic bearings are used in the motors for very important equipment and machinery used in hospitals and infrastructural facilities, and have contributed dramatically to preventing damage to equipment.

Stable insulation performance! The new ceramic ball bearing, which resists electric corrosion, allows for products to have a longer life

JTEKT was the first manufacturer in the world to achieve practical ceramic bearings. Ceramic bearings have excellent insulation, and are used in a lot of important equipment to allow it to operate stably.

In 1984, for the first time ever, practical and reliable anticorrosive ceramic bearings that could be used even in fluid became a reality.

3. Bearings for medical equipment that support our healthy lifestyle

Fig. 3: MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)Fig. 3: MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

Fig. 4: MRI motorsFig. 4: MRI motors

With more and more aging populations, healthcare has become a major concern, and medical devices have been increasing in number all around the world.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses a strong magnetic force to photograph internal organs, blood vessels, and so on, and examine the inside of the body.
If we use a normal bearing under the strong magnetism of an MRI scanner, the magnetic field will be disturbed, and accurate inspection will not be possible. The bearing will also not be able to rotate smoothly.
Because of this, we can use bearings that are not noticeably affected by strong magnetism for MRI systems.

Fig. 5: A ceramic bearing for use in an MRI motorFig. 5: A ceramic bearing for use in an MRI motor

By using ceramic materials--which are resistant to the effects of magnetism--for the balls (rolling elements) and rings, and using resin with excellent lubricating quality for the cages, these bearings contribute to the accuracy of medical examinations.

Special Environment Bearings: Ceramic Bearings

Product information / Field / Magnetic Field Environments

4. Bearings for skateboarding that support our rich and enjoyable lifestyle

Pro-skater Akira TanakaPro-skater Akira Tanaka

Skateboarding will be recognized as an Olympic sport for the first time ever at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Olympic skateboarders use skateboards incorporating bearings that were newly developed to meet the needs of the skateboarders.

A skateboard has four wheels with two bearings in each, for a total of eight bearings.

Fig. 6: A skateboard wheelFig. 6: A skateboard wheel

Skateboards that incorporate bearings with ceramic balls, and rings and cages designed with special surface treatment, allow for easier and smoother turns, and better feeling of comfort for the skater. Furthermore, these skateboards do not lose speed until the "finish line," allowing for more complex and difficult tricks to be pulled off. For this reason, these bearings lead to the success of the extremely difficult trick known as the "backside heelflip Indy."

Fig. 7: A bearing for use in an inline skateboard, with ceramic ballsFig. 7: A bearing for use in an inline skateboard, with ceramic balls

Conclusion

Among the machines we encounter in our daily lives, too, sometimes conventional bearings simply cannot work to their full potential.
This is because our daily lives are supported by a large number of highly sophisticated machines.
For this reason, newer and better upgrades for bearings are constantly being developed.

In order to continue to support our daily lives, bearings are always evolving.

Next month's column

So, we have come to the end of our series on "the basics of bearings." Next time, we will begin a new series of columns about bearings. The contents will be decided upon at a later date, so look out for that in the future!

Related columns:

Part 1: What Are Bearings? Let's learn about the basic functions of bearings! Part 2: Leonardo da Vinci Was the Father of the Bearing!? The amazing history of bearings Part 3: What's the Structure of the Bearing? The role of the structure and parts in reducing friction Part 4: What Are the Differences Between Bearings? The various types and special features of bearings Part 5: The Applications of Bearings I: This is how bearings are used in cars Part 6: The Applications of Bearings II: This is how bearings are used for machines in industry
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