Correct lubrication is critical to bearing performance. It provides a thin film between the contact areas in a bearing to reduce friction, dissipate heat and inhibit corrosion on balls and raceways. The lubricant will affect maximum running speed and temperature, torque level, noise level and, ultimately, bearing life. There are a range of options depending on the application.
Mineral or synthetic based lubricants are the most commonly used and are designed
for general and high speed use. Finely filtered versions are used for low noise applications.
There are versions that are water resistant, offer low or high temperature capabilities.
Silicon lubricants have wide temperature ranges and change viscosity less with temperature. They also have good water-
Perfluorinated lubricants or PFPE lubricants are non-
Dampening greases are widely used in automotive parts to prevents rattles and squeaks. They are also used to give a “quality” feel to switches, slides, threads and gears. They can be used in slow rotating bearings in, for example, potentiometers for the same reason.
Food grade lubricants are required for the food and beverage industries to conform with strict hygiene regulations. HI approved lubricants are required for bearings were there may be incidental contact with food and H2 approved greases are used where there is no contact. These greases are also designed to be highly resistant to being washed out by cleaning processes.
Low viscosity oils and greases are used where low lubricant resistance is required such as sensitive instruments. Higher viscosity lubricants may be specified for high load, high speed or vertical shaft applications. Low viscosity oils (or greases with low viscosity base oils) are preferred for high speed applications as they generate less heat. Although greases often provide much greater resistance than oils, many modern low torque greases can produce torque figures that are similar to some oils, particularly where a low grease fill is used.
Most oils maintain their consistency well over a wide temperature range and are easy
to apply. For very low torque applications, a light instrument oil should be specified.
Higher running speeds are possible with oil but, as it tends not to stay in place,
continuous lubrication must be applied by oil jet, oil bath or oil mist unless speeds
are low or rotation is for short periods. An oil-
Greases are simply oils mixed with a thickener to so that they stay inside the bearing. Greases are generally more suitable for heavy loads and have the obvious advantage of giving constant lubrication over a long period without maintenance.
Surprisingly, too much grease can be bad for a bearing. A high grease fill will mean
greater rolling resistance (higher torque) which may not be suitable for many applications
but worse still is the risk of heat build-
Grease Speed Rating
Greases have speed ratings sometimes called “DN” ratings. The calculation for the “DN” of an application is as follows:
Assume a bearing rotates at 20,000 rpm. The bearing ID is 8mm and the OD is 22mm. The above formula produces a DN of 300,000 so the grease should be rated above this figure. Many modern greases are suitable for high speeds with some rated at 1 million DN or more.
We stock many lubricants but for more information on our standard oils and greases, please see our Lubricant Tables
Alternatively, go to the relevant manufacturer's website by clicking on one of the following links:
Speed in rpm x (bearing ID + bearing OD) ÷ 2