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How are ball bearings made

How Are Ball Bearings Made?

The answer can be split into a few different sections as you can take each part of the bearing and describe how each component is made. First let’s take the balls of a ball bearing as these are quite an essential part! First of all a piece of thick wire is fed into a machine, the wire is cut down by chopping off pieces from both sides until it is quite small. The machine then slams two hemisphere cavities into the piece of wire to make a ball shape. After this the ball has a ring around it like the planet Saturn called the flash, this needs to be taken off as the ball needs to be perfectly round and smooth to work. The ball with the flash is fed into another machine which rolls the ball around between two hard pieces of steel called Rill Plates, and this roughs away the flash and smoothes over the ball, a little bit like sanding down wood. After this process the ball is then heated so the ball hardens. For balls to work within a bearing perfectly the balls needs to be of perfect measurements, and so the last stage of the ball making process involves measuring the ball, it needs to be so precise they measure it down to a millionth of an inch.

How are the other parts in a ball bearing made?

The other components to a ball bearing include races, a cage, and then the covering to protect the bearing.

Let’s look at races first; both inner and outer races are made in the same way. The races are what the balls go between. First of all they take a steel tube and feed it into a machine where the machine cuts off an amount of the tube to work with. The piece of tube is then put into a very hot furnace for a few hours, temperature at around 800 degrees C, then they put it into oil to cool them down, this process makes the steel tube extremely hard. From here the tube needs to be cut down into the appropriate size of the racer but because they have been hardened they are grinded down, a little like sanding. The grinding machine has the perfect shape that the racer needs to be and this makes it incredibly smooth all over as well. The smoothness is important as the balls need to be able to move and roll freely within them.

How about the cage, what is that made out of? The cages can be made out of steel or plastic. Steel cages are cut from thin sheets of metal and then shaped within a mould called a die, once the shape has taken place the die is opened and the shape of the cage is pulled out. Plastic cages are made by injection molding, a mould of the cage is set and then liquid plastic is filled into it and the plastic hardens for the cage to take shape.

Once all the parts are built separately they assembled together to build the ball bearing, each part needs to be very precise in smoothness and measurements for the bearing to work correctly.

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