Yes - radial ball bearings with a retainer (or cage) are designed to take primarily radial loads but have an axial load capacity. The amount of permitted axial load depends on the bearing dimensions and is often given as an approximate percentage of the bearing’s static radial load rating.

Bearings with a greater difference between the bore diameter and outer ring diameter can take larger axial loads as a percentage, sometimes up to 50% of the radial static load. This also partly depends on the depth of the bearing raceway. Thin section bearings have shallower raceways which reduces the axial load capacity.

There are other factors which determine how much axial load a bearing can handle. Bearings subjected to a heavy radial load and bearings with a moment (tilting/misalignment) load will have a reduced axial load capacity.

If the bearing needs to cope with a heavy axial load, an angular contact bearing should be used. These have a different internal design allowing them to handle much greater axial loads than standard radial ball bearings.

For more information, call the SMB Bearings team on +44 (0) 1993 842 555.

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