- A thrust bearing is an axle that spins along its axis when force is applied to it. A thrust bearing is made to withstand axial forces, all the while providing a high load resistance. A thrust bearing has many practical applications and is commonly utilized in the automotive and aerospace fields.
- Thrust bearings have been around since the invention of the wheel. History indicates that thrust bearings were used by many great civilizations of the past, from the Egyptians for chariot construction to the Romans for ships. Because bearings are essential to the construction of anything transport-related, bearing plants were often the targets of enemies during wars, as was the case in World War II. As they continued to be researched, many different types of thrust bearings were improved, and some new ones have been invented over time.
- All bearings generally fall into one of two categories, depending on the effect friction has on them: rolling bearings or sliding bearings.
Rolling bearings are the more common bearings, as they have been in use longer. They can significantly reduce, but not eliminate, friction. The two types of rolling bearings are ball bearings and roller bearings.
Sliding bearings produce movement without any rolling parts, but they often make use of a lubricant to facilitate motion. More recently, sliding bearings have been developed with magnetic fields, and this technology is being used and improved by NASA.
- The four main types of thrust bearings each has a primary use. The ball bearing, the most common type of thrust bearing, is effective when used in high-speed situations. The roller bearing is unique among thrust bearing types, as it can sustain both axial and radial loads. The fluid bearing, which contains a liquid or gas layer, is durable and produces little, if any, noise. The magnetic bearing is agitated by a magnetic field, and it does not wear or create any friction.
- There are a few different thrust bearings to choose from, so the question is: Which bearing should be used for a specific situation?
In high-speed situations, magnetic bearings are the best. But these bearings are still in development, and they are not available to the general public. The next-best thing would be ball bearings. They are excellent in high-speed situations and are widely available.
If you are looking for something that can take on a large load, and do not mind compromising speed, then roller bearings are the right choice.
Overall, however, fluid bearings may be the most efficient, as they are durable and cheap, produce less friction than mechanical bearings and are also effective in high-speed situations.