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Everything you Need to Know About Bearings

Have you ever wondered what bearings are and how they could be relevant to your own needs? If this is something you have considered, our expert team is on hand today to give you more information about everything you need to know about bearings! From answering the question of “what are bearings” to helping you find out more about the different types of bearings, we’re here today to make sure you have everything you need to know.

What are Bearings? 

Bearings are some of the most fundamental components in modern machinery, and most of us have a very vague understanding of what bearings are. However, if directly asked the question, we likely would struggle to give a clear and descriptive answer. It’s with this in mind today that we have summarized some of the critical points.

Bearings are used in a wide variety of machinery and technology applications, often supporting wheels, gears, rotors, turbines, etc. They are sometimes even referred to as “the bread and butter of the machine industry” for their pivotal role in this regard.

These days, bearings are used in a massive variety of machines, quietly working behind the scenes to keep systems running smoothly. Their primary role in most applications is in relation to rotating parts within the machine, whereby they allow for free rotation or prevent movement, depending on the application; however, we’ll cover the role of bearings in a little more detail soon.

History of Bearings

As you might imagine, the invention of the modern bearing largely coincided with the rise of the First Industrial Revolution. During that time, the use of machinery rapidly became more widespread. Indeed, the first patented example of a ball bearing was made in 1794; however, the concept of bearings far predates this in a crude form. It’s even believed that the earliest forms of rolling bearings would have come before the invention of the wheel. Meanwhile, it’s a widespread belief that the Ancient Egyptians implemented tree trunks as crude bearing technology.

How Bearings Are Used

The primary function of the bearing is to reduce friction within a system. This provides several crucial features for the machine, such as limiting the wear and tear, improving efficiency, and helping to prevent errors such as overheating. Naturally, these are all crucial aspects of keeping the machine (and the bearing) working at peak efficiency.

Moreover, the role of the bearing within modern systems is also to help transmit motions and forces. The exact use will vary depending on the bearing and the requirements of the system. 

Mathematical Bearings

In addition to mechanical bearings, as we’ve briefly outlined above, bearings are often a term used in mathematics to measure angles from a directional view. In most mathematical instances, the calculation of a bearing is done in degrees and is the angle measured clockwise from North.

Overall, bearings are often considered sacrificial contact surfaces, depending on their type, as they prevent wear and tear for the machine. Nevertheless, a good bearing must still be able to withstand intense heat and pressure to prevent it from wearing out too quickly.

The Different Types of Bearings

There are several different types of bearings, and being aware of these may help you better understand the role of bearings and how we use them in modern machinery. Some of the different types of bearings include the following:

Plain bearings feature a shaft that rotates within a hole

Rolling-element bearings prevent sliding friction by placing rolling elements between turning and stationary components. Of these, the two most common types are ball bearing and roller bearing, the latter of which is similar to the earlier example of using tree trunks.

Jewel bearings reduce friction thanks to the bearing surface. They are comprised of ultra-hard and durable glassy jewel materials such as sapphire.

Fluid bearings support the load without direct contact through either gas or liquid.

Magnetic bearings utilize magnetic fields to support the load.

Flexure bearings use a flexible load element that supports the motion overall.

In summary, the different types of bearings are predominantly determined by their final function and purpose and work in different ways to reduce friction within the system. For example, rolling-element bearings reduce friction due to their shape; meanwhile, magnetic bearings reduce friction by preventing the elements from directly touching. 


If you have ever wondered about what bearings are and the different types of bearings, then we hope that today’s article may have helped. We’ve briefly covered everything you need to know to understand the entire basics of bearings; hopefully, this may help you make the best choices for your own bearing-related needs, too. Here at Aire Velo, we offer a large range of bearing including Headset, Steel and NSK bearings, for more information please contact our great team today.