Difference between Ball Bearing and Roller Bearing

Most of the machines have different components and utilize a variety of bearings which enable their smooth, hassle-free working. Although there are many varieties of bearings, the most used ones are ball bearings and roller bearings. Both types of bearings are meant to provide exemplary and effective operations. There are a few differences between these two types regarding designs or usage. So let us look at a few of them.

difference between ball bearing and roller bearing

Difference between Ball Bearing and Roller Bearing

The main difference between ball bearing and roller bearing is, that the Ball bearings are composed of small spheres, resulting in a small point of contact with the load. Where else the cylindrical-shaped Roller bearings’ area of contact with a load is in a line, supporting the load more effectively and spreading along with it.

Application: Ball bearings are practical when one requires loading small products. As we increase the loads, these bearings tend to break or lose their defined shape. Roller bearings are applicable in conditions where one requires handling large loads. Though, one must not forget that needle bearings, which are a variation of roller options, are essential in case of constraint space.

Maintenance Cost: Roller bearing requires good maintenance to ensure the proper functioning of different industrial machines or applications.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Ball bearing & Roller bearing

Advantages of Ball Bearings

  • Possess a good wear resistance
  • Requires less lubrication
  • Capable of handling thrust loads
  • Can be replaced easily
  • Can offer long service

Limitations of Ball Bearings

  • It can get loud at times
  • Not competent in handling large weights
  • Can get damaged due to shocks

Advantages of Roller Bearings

  • Tapered roller bearings are competent in handling high axial loads
  • Capable of taking high radial loads
  • Generates very less friction
  • Produce fewer vibrations

Limitations of Roller Bearings

  • Very expensive
  • It can be very noisy

Types of ball bearings available in the market

ball bearing

Angular Contact Ball Bearings: When it comes to bearings, angular contact balls have a unique contact angle that sets them apart from other varieties. Thus, forces are transferred from one raceway to the next at an angle concerning the first. It is also possible to move loads in which large axial forces have to be conveyed and those transmitted by the ball bearings’ radial motion.

Self-Aligning Ball Bearings: The inner ring and the ball complement may revolve inside the outer ring. Thanks to an outer ring racetrack that runs continuously around the outer ring. In terms of both size and design, the options for Self-Aligning Ball Bearings are almost limitless. Thus it enables the application to self-align to some extent.

Thrust Ball Bearings: As a rule of thumb, thrust ball comprises two bearing discs, each having a raceway for the balls in between. It can absorb axial stresses in one direction and can also be used to position the shaft in one direction.

Deep Groove Ball Bearings: A ring of balls is trapped between the two races that allow rotational motion in this type of bearings. Placed by a retainer, these balls possess very low friction. This type of bearing is optimized with low vibration & noise, which makes it ideal for high-speed applications.

How do ball bearings work?

Ball bearings are among the most widely utilized types of bearings in rotary movement applications, accounting for over half of all such uses. They are made up of a row or many rows of balls sandwiched between the inner and outer raceways.

One ring is generally linked to the rotating assembly or shaft, and when the assembly turns, the balls roll around the inner raceway. In contrast, the other ring stays stationary, as seen in the illustration. This enables the rotational movement with an exceptionally low friction coefficient, making it ideal for applications requiring high speeds while still requiring low friction characteristics.

Types of roller bearings available in the market

taper roller bearing

Spherical Roller Bearings: The Spherical Roller Bearings function on the same principle as Self-aligning bearings but use spherical rollers rather than ball rollers, which helps them handle heavier loads than ball rollers successfully. Bearings with spherical rollers can sustain high radial loads and low axial forces.

Cylindrical Roller Bearings: These bearings provide the best possible distribution of stress elements at the moment of impact; rolling components and raceways should act into a line. Cylindrical roller bearings can handle huge radial loads. Depending on the design, they may be able to transfer a minor amount of axial stresses.

Tapered Roller Bearings: The term “tapered roller bearings” refers to bearings with tapered raceways in the inner and outer rings and conical rollers located between the two. Tapered roller bearings may absorb large radial and axial forces because of the contact angle.

Needle Roller Bearings: Cylindrical needle roller bearings are made of nylon and have long, thin rolling components known as needle rollers. The ratio of diameter to length is 3:1 to 1:10.

All types of bearings come with some numbering with which one can easily identify the type and other information.

Read more about How to Identify Bearings by Number in this blog post.

Suggested Read: Top 9 Bearing Suppliers in Kolkata That You Can Trust

How do roller bearings work?

Roller bearings are primarily used in conveyer belt rollers, and it is expected to be strong enough to support heavy radial loads. In these bearings, the roller is generally a cylinder, and therefore the area of contact between the outer and inner race is a line, not a point. Thus it easily spreads the load to a larger area and thus allows the bearing to easily hold enough loads than a ball bearing. Single-row or multiple-row bearings are available, and the addition of additional rows may significantly enhance their radial load capability.

When to choose which one?

As a rule of thumb, ball bearings are more often employed in high-speed applications and are less in weight than roller bearings. When exposed to shock and impact load, roller bearings outperform ball bearings.

Unlike multi-row ball bearings, cylindrical roller bearings are standard and may be used interchangeably by different manufacturers. Nevertheless, when choosing a bearing, all you have to do is consider the following factors: the lubricant, grade, any shielding/sealing, and the essential load requirement.

If you want to get detailed information about different types of bearings, contact Padia enterprise, one of the best bearing distributors in India.


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