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bearing production Awesome video

Ever since man began to need to move things, he has used round rollers to make the job easier. Probably the first rollers were sticks or logs, which were a big improvement over dragging things across the ground, but still pretty hard work. Egyptians used logs to roll their huge blocks of stone for the pyramids. Eventually, someone came up with the idea of securing the roller to whatever was being moved, and built the first "vehicle" with "wheels." However, these still had bearings made from materials rubbing on each other instead of rolling on each other. It wasn't until the late eighteenth century that the basic design for bearings was developed. In 1794, Welsh ironmaster Philip Vaughan patented a design for ball bearings to support the axle of a carriage. Development continued in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, spurred by the advancement of the bicycle and the automobile

Raw Materials
Almost all parts of all ball bearings are made of steel. Since the bearing has to stand up to a lot of stress, it needs to be made of very strong steel. The standard industry classification for the steel in these bearings is 52100, which means that it has one percent chromium and one percent carbon (called alloys when added to the basic steel). This steel can be made very hard and tough by heat treating. Where rusting might be a problem, bearings are made from 440C stainless steel

The Manufacturing 
Process

1 Both races are made in almost the same way. Since they are both rings of steel, the process starts with steel tubing of an appropriate size. Automatic machines similar to lathes use cutting tools to cut the basic shape of the race, leaving all of the dimensions slightly too large. The reason for leaving them too large is that the races must be heat treated before being finished,

2 The rough cut races are put into a heat treating furnace at about 1,550 degrees Fahrenheit (843 degrees Celsius) for up to several hours (depending on the size of the parts), then dipped into an oil bath to cool them and make them very hard. This hardening also makes them brittle, so the next step is to temper them. This is done by heating them in a second oven to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit (148.8 degrees Celsius), and then letting them cool in air. This whole heat treatment process makes parts which are both hard and tough.

Balls

4 The balls are a little more difficult to make, even though their shape is very simple. Surprisingly, the balls start out as thick wire. This wire is fed from a roll into a machine that cuts off a short piece, and then smashes both ends in toward the middle. This process is called cold heading

Cage
8 Steel cages are stamped out of fairly thin sheet metal, much like a cookie cutter, and then bent to their final shape in a die. A die is made up of two pieces of steel that fit together, with a hole the shape of the finished part carved inside. When the cage is put in between and the die is closed, the cage is bent to the shape of the hole inside. The die is then opened, and the finished part is taken out, ready to be assembled.
9 Plastic cages are usually made by a process called injection molding. In this process, a hollow metal mold is filled by squirting melted plastic into it, and letting it harden. The mold is opened up, and the finished cage is taken out, ready for assembly.

Assembly
10 Now that all of the parts are made, the bearing needs to be put together. First, the inner race is put inside the outer race, only off to one side as far as possible. This makes a space between them on the opposite side large enough to insert balls between them. The required number of balls is put in, then the races are moved so that they are both centered, and the balls distributed evenly around the bearing.

Quality Control
Bearing making is a very precise business. Tests are run on samples of the steel coming to the factory to make sure that it has the right amounts of the alloy metals in it. Hardness and toughness tests are also done at several stages of the heat treating process. There are also many inspections along the way to make sure that sizes and shapes are correct. The surface of the balls and where they roll on the races must be exceptionally smooth

Where To Learn More
Books
Deere & Company Staff, eds. Bearings & Seals, 5th ed. R. R. Bowker, 1992.

Eschmann, Paul. Ball & Roller Bearings: Theory, Design & Application, 2nd ed.

Harris, Tedric A. Rolling Bearing Analysis, 3rd ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1991.

Houghton, P. S. Ball & Roller Bearings. Elsevier Science Publishing Company, Inc., 1976.

Nisbet, T. S. Rolling Bearings. Oxford University Press, 1974.
 
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