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8. Bearing applications

8.1 Arrangement of bearings
8.2 Location design – General principles
8.3 Seal

8.1 Arrangement of bearings

To locate rotary shaft you need at least two bearings that are located in certain distance from each other. Depending on the application method, location with axially free and axially guiding bearing is selected; prestressed location or floating arrangement of bearings. See figure 4.12 in chapter Bearing type selection for examples of bearing arrangements.

8.1.1 Location with axially free and axially guiding bearing

Axially guiding bearing on one shaft end brings besides radial load element also axial element in both directions. For the above reason, it has to be secured both in the shaft and in the body. Axially free bearing in location compensates production inaccuracies in location and, first of all, changes in dimensions in operation due to increased temperatures. An ideal axially free bearing is roller bearing in N and NU design the rolling bodies of which can move on the raceway of bearing ring without guide flanges. Bearings of the other types, such as ball bearings and spherical-roller bearings, can be used as axially free only if one of bearing races is push-located.

Axially guide bearing guides shaft in axial direction and besides radial forces captures also axial forces. Selection of bearing type to be used as axially guide bearing depends on the size of axial load and on requirements for accuracy of shaft location. Double row angular-contact ball bearing ensures more accurate axial guidance than e.g. ball or spherical-roller bearing. Accurate axial guidance can be achieved also by a pair of tapered roller bearings which are used as axially guide bearing. At lower axial load even NUP cylindrical roller bearing can be used as axially guide bearing.

8.1.2 Symmetrical arrangement of bearings

This type of location suits mainly short shafts. It features shaft being guided in one direction by one bearing and in other direction by other bearing. Suitable bearings for this type of arrangement are all radial bearings that allow transfer of axial force at least in one direction. In this arrangement, prestressed bearings can be mounted (fig. 8.1).

8.1.3 Prestressed location

Location of prestressed bearing usually consists of symmetrically placed ball bearings with angular contact, or of tapered roller bearings. Prestress is achieved by use of springs. Such design compensates thermal dilatation. It is used in case when idle bearings can be exposed to vibrations. Prestressed bearings can reduce noise level, especially in small electric motors.

Fig. 8.1

Spring acts on outer race of one of the bearings whilst relevant outer race has to allow axial displacement in the body. Prestress remains practically constant even though the bearing axially moves due to thermal dilatation. Required prestress can be calculated using the below relation:

F = k × d

F . . . . . . . Prestress force [kN]
k . . . . . . . coefficient, see next  
d . . . . . . . bearing hole diameter [mm]

Depending on design of electric motor, the coefficient may reach values of 0.005 up to 0.01.

If prestress is supposed to prevent bearing from getting damaged due to vibrations, it has to be set to higher level.

Then k = 0.02 has to be selected.

This method is however not suitable for locations that must feature high rigidity where the direction of acting load changes, or where shock load acts.


If certain optimum prestress value is exceeded, rigidity increases only insignificantly whilst friction and also service temperature in the bearing grow rapidly. This reduces durability of bearing since additional constant load acts on it. Informative relation between durability and prestress – clearance – is indicated in diagram in fig. 8.2.

Fig. 8.2

8.2 Location design – General principles

Properties of bearings are fully utilised only when bearing races are supported along the entire circumference and width of raceways. Solid support surface can be of either cylindrical or tapered shape, in thrust bearings the surface is flat. Support surfaces must be manufactured to have adequate accuracy, and must not be provided with grooves, holes, etc. Besides that, bearing races must be reliably secured to prevent them from turning in the body or on the shaft.

Suitable radial security and adequate support can only be achieved if bearing rings are mounted with overlap. If however easy assembly and disassembly are required, alternatively axial transferability of axially free bearing, fixed location of the ring cannot be selected.

Where free location is chose, provisions must be adopted to avoid irrevocable wear during shifting the ring.

Rotating shaft or another component located in roller bearings is guided by them in radial and axial direction so that the principal condition of definiteness of its movement is achieved. If possible, the component should certainly be located, i.e. supported radially on two spots and axially in one spot.

Examples of such location are shown in figures 4.12. Most common location is such where the shaft is located radially in two bearings one of which locks it in axial direction. Guide (fixed) bearing transfers radial load and also axial load in both directions. Radial bearings are mostly used as guide. They are able to transfer combined load, e.g. single row ball bearings, double row angular-contact bearings, double row self- -aligning ball bearing, double row spherical-roller bearings or single row angular-contact ball bearings and tapered roller bearings. The lastly mentioned two bearing types must be assembled in pairs. Free bearing only transfers radial load and must allow certain displacement of the shaft in axial direction in order to prevent occurrence of undesired prestress caused by external effects (thermal dilatation, production inaccuracy of connecting location components, etc.).

Axial displacement can be achieved by shifting between one of the body rings and machine components directly associated with the bearing, e.g. between the outer bearing ring and the bore in the body (fig. 4.12a, b), or directly in the bearing (fig. 4.12 c to h).

Locations where higher radial force and axial load in higher revolution frequency act should be solved by the bearings capturing only radial or axial forces, see fig. 8.3.

Fig. 8.3

Fig. 8.4

In these cases, any of radial bearings can be used for radial guidance, and those radial bearings for axial guidance that feature the ability to transfer also axial load, alternatively a pair of these bearings or double direction thrust bearings or a pair of single direction thrust bearings. Condition is that axially guide bearings have to be located with radial clearance.

Another frequently used solution is location in two bearings the design of which allows capturing of both radial and axial load in both directions. Axial load is captured in turns by both bearings, always by the direction in which forces act and, at the same time, they transfer also radial load. An example of such location is shown in figure 8.4.

In this case, a pair of single row tapered roller or single row angular-contact ball bearings is used as a well tested construction. Also other types of bearings that are able to transfer load in radial and axial direction at the same time can be used, e.g. single row bearings, alternatively single row cylindrical roller bearings in NJ design, etc.

Radial and axial security of bearing on journal and in body bore or in another part has direct connection with the overall design location arrangement. When selecting the method of fixation, the character and intensity of acting forces has to be considered particularly, as well as service temperature at the point of location and the material of connecting components.

When specifying the dimensions of connecting parts, the designer needs to consider also the assembly and disassembly method and maintenance actions, besides the type and dimensions of the bearing.

8.2.1 Radial security of bearings

Bearing is fixed in radial direction on fitted cylindrical surface on the surface of the journal and bore in the body. In some cases of fixation on journal, adapter or withdrawal sleeve is used; alternatively the bearing can be fixed directly on tapered journal.

Proper radial fixation of bearing on journal and in body is very important for utilisation of its loading capacity and correct location function. In doing so, the following aspects need to be considered:

a) safe fixation and uniform support of rings
b) easy assembly and disassembly
c) displacement of free bearing in axial direction

In principle, both bearing rings should be fixed firmly since only this way their reliable support on the entire circumference and radial fixation against spinning can be achieved. To simplify assembly and disassembly or in order to shift free bearing, one of the rings can be located as sliding.

If proper radial fixation of bearing is selected, one needs to evaluate and consider the effect of the method of rotation and intensity of load.

Circumferential load

Circumferential load occurs when relevant bearing ring turns, and the direction of load does not change, or when the ring does not turn and the load rotates. The bearing ring circumference is loaded successively in one revolution. In this case, loaded ring must be always fixed with necessary overlap.

Spot load

Spot load occurs when the bearing ring stands and outer force is directed still in the same spot of the raceway, or when the ring and force rotate at the same revolution frequency. The ring to which the spot load acts can be located with clearance (mobile), if the conditions require so.

Uncertain way of loading

In case of uncertain way of loading, the ring is acted on by variable external forces the direction and change of load of which cannot be determined (e.g. unbalanced masses, shocks, etc.). Uncertain way of loading requires that both rings are located with overlap (firmly). Under this condition in majority cases of location bearings with increased radial clearance have to be selected.

Load intensity

The load directly affects selection of the size of overlap in location. The bigger the load of the bearing, the bigger overlap in location has to be selected. This particularly applies in cases of shock and vibration load of the bearing. Fixed location on journal or in bore of the body induces deformation of ring, which reduces radial clearance. To ensure the needed radial clearance in cases of fixed location, sometimes bearings with increased radial clearance have to be used. Final clearance after assembly depends on the type and size of the bearing. Therefore the size of needed overlap of fitted ring has to be considered by the type and size of the bearing. For bearings of smaller dimensions smaller overlaps are selected, and vice versa. Relatively smaller overlaps are used e.g. for ball bearings of the same bigness comparing to cylindrical roller, tapered roler or spherical roller bearings.

Material and design of connecting pieces

Designing and determination of tolerances of connecting parts must take into account the materials used, as well as the construction of the connecting pieces. Results of practical experiences reflect in the below stated charts. When bearings are mounted in bodies made of light metal alloys or on journals of hollow shafts, location with higher overlaps has to be selected.

Split bodies are not suitable for locations with big overlaps since they represent a risk of gripping the bearing in the dividing plane of the body.

Heating and warmth

Warmth generated in bearing may lead to release of overlap on the journal which may cause spinning the ring. An opposite case may occur in the body. Heating causes clearance adjustment which will limit up to eliminate axial displacement of the ring of free bearing in the body. Therefore we need to be very attentive to this factor when designing the location.

Accuracy of bearing surfaces

Accuracy of bearing surfaces in terms of tolerances and geometrical shapes is important since it may transfer to raceways of bearing rings. First of all, this has to be reflected in location designs which are highly focused on the running accuracy. Major share of inequality is transferred in thin profiles of bearing rings.

When normal accuracy level bearings are used, usually tolerances within the tolerance level IT6 are selected for the bearing surface on the journal, whilst for the bearing surface in the body the selected tolerance level is IT7.

For ball and cylindrical roller bearings of smaller dimensions, IT5 level can be used for the journal and IT6 for the bore in the body.

For bearings of higher accuracy levels, for locations with high accuracy requirements, e.g. machine tool spindles, the recommended least level is IT5 for the shaft, and at least IT6 for the body

Allowed deviation of roundness and cylindricality and allowed frontal runout of bearing and support surfaces for bearings must be smaller against the axis than the scope of tolerance of the diameters of the journal and the bore. With increasing accuracy of the bearings used, also the requirements for the accuracy of bearing surfaces grow. The recommended accuracy values of the bearing surfaces shape for bearings are stated in chart 8.1, and general tolerances IT2 to IT6 in chart 8.2

Table 8.1

Table 8.2

Assembly and disassembly of bearing

If any of the rings is located with clearance (mobile), the assembly is easy. If the service conditions require that both rings are located with overlap, a suitable type of bearing has to be chosen, e.g. separable bearing (tapered, cylindrical, needle), or a bearing with tapered bore. Shaft journals for location of sleeves for bearing with tapered bore can be within the h9 or h10 tolerance, geometrical shape must be within the accuracy IT5 or IT7, depending on the complexity of location.

Axial displacement of free bearing races

At any service conditions the axial displacement of free bearing has to be ensured. If non-separable bearings are used, displacement of spot-loaded ring will be reached by locating with clearance (mobile location). In bodies made of light metal alloys the bore has to be sleeved with a steel sleeve, if outer ring is to be located with clearance. Reliable sliding ability in axial direction will be achieved if cylindrical roller bearings of N and NU designs or radial needle roller bearings are used in the location.

The recommended tolerances of journal and hole diameters of connecting pieces are for radial and axial bearings stated in charts 8.3 to 8.10.

Table 8.3

Table 8.4

Table 8.5

Table 8.6

Table 8.7

Table 8.8

Table 8.9

Table 8.10

8.2.3 Axial security of bearings

Inner bearing ring with cylindrical bore seated on journal with overlap (fixed location) is usually locked in axial direction using a adapter nut, terminal plate or snap ring whilst the other face is usually leaned by the shaft fitting. Adjacent components are used as support faces for inner rings and, if needed, spacer rings are inserted between this component and the inner ring of the bearing. Examples of axial fixation of bearing are shown in figure 8.5.

Fig. 8.5

Bearings with tapered bore mounted directly on tapered journal are usually secured with a safety nut screwed onto the thread on the shaft. If bearings are mounted on withdrawal sleeve, the inner ring must be supported, e.g. by a spacer ring. The spacer ring can form a part of labyrinth. The withdrawal sleeve is axially fixed with terminal plate or safety nut.

Examples of axial fixation of bearing with tapered bore directly on tapered journal or by means of adapter or withdrawal sleeve are shown in Fig. 8.6.

Fig. 8.6

Admissible axial load of bearings fixed by means of adapter sleeve on smooth shafts without the bearing leaning on shaft fitting is calculated by the below equation:

Fa = 3B × d


Fa . . . . . admissible axial load of bearing [N]
B . . . . . . bearing width [mm]
d . . . . . . bearing hole diameter [mm]

If axial displacement of outer ring in body is not desirable, we can use a solution utilising the front support surface or seating surface of the bearing lid, nut or snap ring. Bearings with a groove for snap ring (NR) are less demanding in space, and their locking is simple.

Examples of solution are shown in Fig. 8.7.

Obrázek 8.7

Connecting dimensions for individual bearing types are stated in this publication in the chart section (chapter 12).

8.3 Seal

Sealing the bearing space is very important since harmful substances present in the proximity of the bearing affect it and often even put it out of service. Seal has also an opposite function – it prevents the grease from leaking out of the bearing and from the stowage compartment. For that reason, the seal has always to be designed considering the service conditions of the machine or equipment, lubrication method, maintenance options and economic aspects of production and use.

8.3.1 Contact-free sealing

This type of seal features only a tight gap between the non-rotary and rotary component which is sometimes filled with grease. In this design no wear due to friction occurs, and therefore this seal suits to use for highest circumferential speeds and high service temperatures. Examples of slotted seals are shown in fig. 8.8

Fig. 8.8

Another very efficient seal is a labyrinth seal which can be used to enhance the packing effect by higher number of labyrinths or extension of sealing slots. See fig. 8.9. for examples of this seal.

Fig. 8.9

8.3.2 Friction sealing

Friction sealing is made of elastic or soft but sufficiently solid and impermeable material that is inserted between the rotary and fixed component. Such seal is usually cheap and suits to various constructions. Disadvantage is sliding friction touching the surfaces which limits the use of it for high circumferential speeds.

The simplest is seal with a felt ring (fig. 8.10). It suits to service temperatures within -40 °C and +80 °C and to circumferential even to 7 m.s-1, whilst the maximum required surface roughness of the sliding surface is Ra = 0.16, and minimum hardness 45 HRC or treatment by hard chromium plating. Dimensions of felt rings and grooves are solved by relevant national standards.

Fig. 8.10

A very frequent sealing method is sealing with shaft rings (fig. 8.11). Shaft rings are made of rubber or other suitable plastics, stiffened by metal stiffener. According by the material used they suit to service temperatures from -30 °C to +160 °C. Admissible circumferential speed depends on the roughness of the sliding surface roughness.

  • to 2 m.s-1 the roughness is max Ra= 0,8,
  • to 4 m.s-1 the roughness is max Ra= 0,4,
  • to 12 m.s-1 the roughness is max Ra= 0,2.

Fig. 8.11

Besides the stated most common sealing rings there are other friction seal designs that utilise specifically shaped sealing rings made of rubber, plastic, etc., or special elastic metal rings. This seal is either selected for locations with high demands on sealing the bearing space (bog contamination of ambient area, high temperature, effect of chemicals), or due to economic reasons in bulk and large lot production. Examples are shown in fig. 8.12.

Fig. 8.12

8.3.3 Combined seals

Enhanced sealing effect is achieved by combination of contact-free and friction sealing. Such seals are recommended for humid and contaminated environment. Example is shown in fig. 8.13.


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