The Applications and Working Principle of Thrust Bearings

Bearings are components that are paramount to the operations of countless assemblies, serving to constrain motion while also minimizing friction between moving parts. Bearings can come in numerous shapes and forms, thrust bearings being a common type that are implemented in assemblies to absorb axial loads. As bearings that are typically found within automobile gearboxes, radio antenna masts, and other various automotive, marine, and aerospace applications, having a general understanding of thrust bearings and their use can be beneficial.

As stated before, thrust bearings are best fit for taking on the axial loads of a particular assembly. Axial loads are those that are transmitted linearly along a shaft, stemming from various sources such as the forward thrust of boats or the rotation of a propeller powered by a piston aircraft engine. Rotating between parts in motion, thrust bearings may come in a number of forms to facilitate diverse operations.

Thrust ball bearings are those that take advantage of bearing balls that are placed within a ring, accommodating the operations of low thrust applications that exhibit low axial loads. Cylindrical thrust roller bearings, meanwhile, feature cylindrical rollers that are specifically oriented with their axes facing the axis of the bearing. While cost-efficient and featuring high load carrying capacities, such thrust bearings can face wear due to their varying radial speeds and friction. Tapered roller thrust bearings are another common roller thrust bearing, featuring small tapered rollers instead of cylindrical rollers. These tapered rollers are oriented with their axes covering on the axis of the bearing, and the design of the component directly affects how smoothly the rollers are able to roll. Tapered roller thrust bearings are the most common variation for automobiles, capable of taking on axial and radial loads.

Spherical roller thrust bearings feature asymmetrical rollers that are shaped like spheres, placed within a spherical raceway. With their specific design, spherical roller thrust bearings are suited for taking on both radial and axial loads, all while aiding the misalignment of shafts. Generally, spherical roller thrust bearings are paired with radial spherical roller bearings. With the use of fluid bearings, axial thrust can be taken on with the assistance of a pressurized liquid layer, ensuring that drag is mitigated during operations. The final major type of thrust bearing is the magnetic bearing, that of which takes on axial thrust through the use of a magnetic field. Generally, these bearings are used for high speed operations and provide low drag.

As certain bearings differ in their ability to take on certain loads or operational conditions, it is crucial that purchasing decisions are made with ample consideration for the application in question. To ensure proper functionality, reliability, and a long service life for a particular bearing, it should be of the correct type, material, size, and shape for the system or assembly that it will be installed in. After factoring in all operational requirements and bearing characteristics as necessary, Aerospace Unlimited can help you secure all the radial bearing, roller bearing, and thrust bearing components you need with unmatched prices and service.


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