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OEMs Get Higher Speed,Longer Component Life With All-Ceramic and Hybrid Bearings


The manufacturing of precision,high-tech bearing components is a science that XinZhou Bearing Industrial Inc,takes seriously.A custom bearings manufacturer in Shanghai CHINA,Xinzhou Bearings combines an innovative approach to design with the ability to work with the ability to work with a multitude of exotic engineered ceramics,plastics,and coating materials.The company produces components in sizes from miniature to massive.
  “We can make bearings that fit into a erist watch,on up to bearings that are 2-1/2 feet in diameter that are used in giant electricity-generating windmills.”“What we typically produce are custom-made ,ceramic,specialty ball bearings for high-tech applications.Our bearings can be used for harsh environments,for high speed applications,machinery with high loads,high and low-temperature applications,and for machinery used in a vacuum. We also do a lot of work for other bearing manufacturers that can’t handle the more precision work with special requirements.”
With Bearings Like These,
Who Needs Oil and Grease?
We believes that ceramic bearings can even play a part in reducing the use of fossil fuels in the industrial sector. “If manufacturers in China converted from steel bearings to ceramic bearings in just one size of bearing,we feel the country could save over one million barrels of oil per year,”
Hydrocarbon lubricants smooth out the surface of metal bearings,which have peaks and valleys that are visible under a microscope. Hydrocarbon or fluorocarbon lubricants are often used to fill in the valleys to keep the peaks from touching.But he believes there’s a better way of handling micro-weld adhesion.
“The area of contact is so miniscule that,for example,a force of ten pounds on the bearing generates a pressure of over a million pounds per square inch,”“What happens when the peaks touch?Without any oil or grease ,they weld together.The welds will constantly break free and reconnect.This micro weld zdhesion generates very high heat on the bearings.
“When we take the very same bearing and do the very same test using ceramic ball bearing with ceramic races,the heat is so minimal that you can hold them in your hands because they’re not hot,”
“With ceramics,you don’t get micro weld adhesion;therefore,you don’t need oil or grease.
A lot of engineers think that oil and grease is needed to make a bearing go faster,but the opposite
Is true; it makes it go slower.
“Mechanical engineers are continually bombarded with data on various types of oil and greade lubricants for use in a variety of machines and,of course,ball bearings.All this date is superfluous with respect to ceramic ball bearings.Ceramics are lighter than steel with a lower coefficient of friction and little thermal expansion.And ceramics mean higher speeds,hardnedd,and durability,and they never rust. Ceramic bearings also work very well in vacuum chamber applications,since the oil and grease on metal bearings will outgas.And ceramics are also resistant to acids,alkalis,and salts.”
In one test that we performed,we tested a flywheel with a load using ceramic bearings and rances,which are mounted on a tyunnion.we brought the coastdown time.“It took 350 seconds for it to stop rotating,”“When we did this with metal bearings and races with oil and grease on them,they slowed down in less than 60 seconds.So this si a huge amount of torque and energy being absorbed by the system.”
Ion Deposition process
Provides Dry Film Lubrication
For some applications,we designs components using metal balls and races that are coated with an ion deposition process that they’ve developed.This is a dry film lube process whereby one material can be coated on top of another to fill in peaks and valleys.To achieve this ultra-thin coating,the inner and outer races and balls are inserted in a vacuum chamber,and then one of about ten different coating materials are applied,depending on the client’s application.The usual coating is about 2000 angstroms thick,so the dimensions of the parts are changed very little.Possible coating materials include lead,titanium nitride,silver,tungsten disulfide,molybdenum disulfide,and carbide diamond.These materials have a variety of different properties,including decreased electrical resistance,wear resistance,corrosion resistance,high-temperature resistance,nonmagnetic and minimum out-gassing,low friction,higher strength,and nonreactivity to acids and water.
After the balls and races are coated,they are heated up until the material starts to boil.Next,the parts are zapped with 50000 DC volts inside a vacuum chamber that has been flooded with liquid nitrogen for better conductivity.The ionized chemicals are now permanently bonded to the parts.The process fills in the peaks and valleys of the parts,in a manner similar to using oil and grease.
Specialty Bearings for
Diverse High-tech Applications
Sometimes,the company will use ceramic balls in metal races coated with ionized chemicals to create a hybrid bearing component.The hybrid bearing includes a vacuum-compatible,self-lubricating molybdenum disulfide retainer,which requires no hydro or fluorocarbon lubrication.Since there is no metal-to-metal contact between balls and races,scoring is eliminated,and the component runs cooler with the absence of micro-weld abhesion.
Other benefits include operating life three to fivetimes greater than chrome steel balls because wear is lessened;a reduction in heat generation;and low friction that allows for low torque.In addition,the hybrid bearings are 60% lighter than steel,which reduces centrifugal forces and overall system weight.And because ceramic bearings are lighter,they spin more easily and faster.A special,noncontact,Teflon-fiberglass seal can also be inserted to keep dirt out of the bearings.
Xinzhou bearings produces finished components for a very diverse marketplace.“We do a lot of work for Maxum Motors,both AC and DC motors,and with Optical Coating Laboratories Inc,(OCLI),a company that makes opticallenses,many of which are used in vacuum chambers,”says kay.“our bearings are used to very processes.We also make very clean bearings for the semiconductor industry for their chip-making machinery.”

Mechanical Equipment one of Champion’s highest volume customers.The OEM buids large air compressors,which need many angular-contact ball bearings,for industrial and commercialuses. Champion has developed specialty ball bearings for NASA satellites(the ultimate working vacuum)and recently produced,for a Department of Defense subcontractor,specialty bearings to be used in the M1-A1 Abrams main battle tank.

Xinzhou Bearing can also work with a customer’s existing parts to retrofit them for enhanced operation.“In one instance ,a customer had some seals that were leaking oil,so we added Teflon seals to the bearing”“We also make angular contact ball bearing with a Teflon seal”
   Design and engineering is a key element for precision,high-tech bearing applications.When designing a new bearing,we first asks his client about the environmental conditions in which the bearing will be used.Is the environment hot or cold?Are oil or other hydrocarbon lubricants present?What speeds and loads will the bearing be subjected to?In some cases,the company’s engineers will have to design a retainer ring to hold the bearings for speeds over1000 rpm.And engineers will need to know what the machines’s shaft dimensions are so they can figure out what the OD of the bearing will need to be based on certain restrictions.
Engineered plastics,such as PEEK,Teflon,and Vespel,are also used extensively at Xinzhou,which recently developed a Teflon molybdenum disulfide material suitable for retainers.Kay recently talked to ten engineers at OCLI,convincing them to use a zirconia ceramic for a particular bearing application.
“The thermal expansion characteristics of zirconia are almost identical to their stainless steel housings,”Kay explained.“Their application is at 250 degrees C.My zirconia bearings will explained at the same rate,so they won’t have any problems with the housings.”

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