Stainless steel bearings are used where there is a risk of corrosion. Chrome steel bearings will rust easily so in the presence of moisture or chemicals, for example in the food/beverage industry, stainless steel is recommended.
440 grade stainless steel is only slightly softer than chrome steel so load and speed ratings are not much lower. 440 grade is magnetic and is affected by stronger chemicals and salt water. In these conditions, the softer 316 stainless steel can be used although at much lower loads and speeds. High nitrogen steel bearings offer increased corrosion resistance and excellent load/speed ratings but these are usually made to order and are relatively expensive.
Another advantage of stainless steel is the upper working temperature. 440 grade stainless steel bearings are suitable for temperatures as high as 300°C while 316 stainless steel can cope with much higher temperatures.
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