Roller Bearings for the Aerospace Industry

Posted on August 1, 2019 James Williams Roller Bearings for the Aerospace Industry

Few components are as important as aircraft bearings in the aerospace industry. Bearings, as their name implies, bear weight and friction, allowing components in the aircraft to turn and rotate in a controlled manner. Bearings can take several different forms, but for this article we will focus on roller bearings.

Rolling-element bearings, regardless of their purpose, share similar design elements between them. Firstly, they feature an out and inner ring called races, and a set of rolling elements between the two races. Ball bearings are called such because they use ball bearings as the rolling element, for instance. Roller bearings typically use small cylinders that are slightly longer than they are wider as the rolling element.
While the design of the roller bearing dates back to at least 40 BCE, modern aircraft roller bearings are precisely tooled and manufactured for their purpose and made from high-quality chrome steel or hardened stainless steel depending on their needs and the stresses they will endure. Heat and corrosion are both major concerns in the aerospace industry, so bearings need to be able to endure such stresses. The starting material for the bearing is developed through heat treatment, hardened, and then ground down into the proper shape. Once manufacturing is complete, the rollers are closely inspected to make sure they are up to quality standards and ensure their measurements are correct. If the roller is improperly manufactured, it will not align properly within the bearing, and its bearing capacity will drop. Misalignment can also occur due to mechanical stresses and vibration (some types of roller bearings, such as spherical rollers, are able to re-align themselves).
When they function properly however, bearings are able to distribute the outer load from one roller to the next, with fewer than half of the rollers carrying a significant portion of the load at any time.
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