Types of bearings? 

There’s a huge variety of bearings on the market, so we’re not surprised if you feel overwhelmed. Ball bearings are probably the bearing type you think of first. The standard deep groove radial ball bearings are used for mainly radial loads but can handle smaller axial loads too. They are found in everything from hard drives to skateboard wheels.

Ball bearings come in different varieties too. Angular contact bearings are designed to support radial loads and heavy axial loads while self-aligning ball bearings have an inner ring that tilts a few degrees independently of the outer ring to cope with shaft/housing misalignment. Some ball bearings have two rows of balls for extra load capacity while double row angular contact ball bearings can accept thrust loads in both directions.

Different bearing types 

Before getting into the nitty gritty of bearing materials and their properties, let’s run through some other popular bearing types.

What are the different types of bearings? High speed, high load, high axial?

Roller bearings use steel rollers instead of balls and are used in applications that involve heavy radial loads. The most common type is the cylindrical roller bearing which is used in gearboxes, railway axles, compressors and many other types of machinery. Spherical roller bearings are used where there is some shaft and housing misalignment. Taper roller bearings will support heavy radial and axial loads and are often found in car and truck wheels.

Ball thrust bearings are unable to handle radial loads. They are for pure axial loads and are often used in conjunction with radial ball bearings.

Roller thrust bearings are also for pure axial loads but will support larger loads than ball thrust bearings.

Needle roller bearings are a thin section version of the roller bearing using very thin rollers. These are used where space is very limited.

Needle roller thrust bearings can only support axial loads and, again, are used where space is at a premium.


Bearing types at SMB Bearings

Once you’ve narrowed down your bearing type, there are other properties to consider, such as material. We stock ceramic bearings, plastic bearings, chrome steel bearings (SAE52100) and stainless steel bearings for very corrosive environments. The good news is, we have a wealth of knowledge to advise you on the best bearing type for your application.

The first step is choosing a material. Don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work. Our handy bearing materials guide will help you to understand the properties of each material— whether that’s steel, plastic or ceramic.

Here’s a quick rundown of the key material types:

SAE52100 Chrome Steel (no prefix)
440 Grade Martensitic Stainless Steel (prefix "S")
AISI316 Austenitic Stainless Steel (prefix "S316")

Acetal resin / POM-C (AC)
Polyethylene (PE)

Zirconia / ZrO2 (prefix "CCZR")
Silicon Nitride / Si3N4 (prefix “CCSI”)
Silicon Carbide / SiC (prefix "CCSC")
Hybrid bearings (prefix “CB” or “SCB”)

We’ve also created a guide that explains different bearing applications. From precision bearings for bicycles to bearings for marine, chemical, pharmaceutical or automotive applications — there is information on which bearings to choose and why.

If you would like more help, give the SMB Bearings team a call. We have years of experience supplying small and miniature bearings to a range of industries. Call our experts today on +44 (0) 1993 842 555 or e-mail sales@smbbearings.com.

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.