Use of ceramic (silicon nitride) balls in place of steel balls can radically improve bearing performance. Because ceramic balls are 60% lighter than steel balls, and because their surface finish is almost perfectly smooth, they exhibit vibration levels two to seven times lower than conventional (metal rings/metal balls) ball bearings.
Ceramic hybrid bearings also run at significantly lower operating temperatures, allowing running speeds to increase by as much as 40 to 50 per cent. Lower operating temperatures help extend lubricant life and bearings with ceramic balls have been proven to last up to five times longer than conventional steel ball bearings. Systems equipped with ceramic hybrids show higher rigidity and higher natural frequency making them less sensitive to vibration
60% lighter than steel balls
50% higher modulus of elasticity
Because of the unique properties of silicon nitride, ceramic balls drastically reduce the predominant cause of surface wear in conventional bearings. In conventional bearings, microscopic surface asperities on balls and races will "cold weld" or stick together, even under normal lubrication and load conditions. As the bearing rotates, the microscopic cold welds break, producing roughness and, eventually, worn contact surfaces. This characteristic is known as adhesive wear. Since ceramic balls will not cold weld to steel rings, wear is dramatically reduced. Because wear particles generated by adhesive wear are not present in ceramic hybrids, lubricant life is also prolonged. The savings in reduced maintenance costs alone can be significant.
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