Full ceramic bearings have excellent corrosion resistance and can cope with very extreme temperatures but due to the more brittle nature of ceramics, the maximum speed is 20% to 25% of the all steel equivalent due to the risk of sudden failure caused by cracking at higher speeds. The maximum load of a full ceramic bearing is around 65 to 75 percent of the load that a steel bearing can support.

Hybrid bearings use steel rings and ceramic (usually silicon nitride) balls. This combination means that hybrid bearings can run at higher speeds due to the more forgiving nature of steel and the lower centrifugal force generated by the lightweight ceramic balls but they are limited in terms of corrosion resistance and extreme temperature capability by the material of the rings.

Shock or sudden impact loads should be avoided with both full ceramic bearings and hybrid bearings. The steel rings in a hybrid bearing will withstand shock loads much better than ceramic rings but, in the event of a sudden impact load, the much harder ceramic balls will make indentations in the steel raceways leading to rapid wear and early failure.

Full ceramic bearings can run without lubrication. Because of the ceramic balls, hybrid bearings cope well with marginal lubrication but they should be adequately lubricated as the ceramic balls will abrade the steel rings much faster if run dry unless speeds are kept low.

Still not sure if hybrid bearings are what you’re looking for? Contact the team to discuss your exact bearing material requirements.

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.