Some might suggest removing the lubricant. The easiest way to make a bearing spin more easily is to remove all of the lubricant and leave it “dry”. However, the bearing may not last very long without a suitable lubricant.

Increasing the speed at which a bearing can operate effectively, is a different matter. This involves the bearing lubrication, bearing material, bearing tolerances, closures and retainers. The maximum speed can be increased by use of a high speed lubricant and also with a high speed retainer. Rubber contact seals will reduce the maximum bearing speed.

High precision bearings will run at higher speeds thanks to the superior roundness and finish of the balls and bearing rings. Low precision bearings will have a reduced speed rating as a result of increased vibration at speed.

Precision “hybrid” bearings with silicon nitride ceramic balls have an even higher maximum speed due to the lower weight and friction coefficient of silicon nitride. Some of these are full complement (without a retainer) or have high speed retainers. These may be found in miniature turbines, machine tool spindles or dental drills.

The choice of lubricant can have a huge impact on speed rating. When selecting a bearing lubricant, it is important to remember that the faster the bearing operates, the hotter the grease will become. High speed greases use lower viscosity base oils, to reduce heat generation, and thickeners that retain the base oil more effectively at high speed.

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Our determination to remain specialised gives us a high level of product knowledge, providing bearing and lubrication solutions to existing or potential customers, whether individuals or large corporations. We don’t just sell bearings, we help to solve your problems. - Chris Johnson, managing director of SMB Bearings.