Thrust bearings were introduced by George Michell, an Australian engineer in 1905. Thrust bearings are rotary bearings which allow rotation amongst parts like other bearing types. They are typically designed to withstand axial loads. There are several types of thrust bearings. Thrust bearings comprise two raceways or washers and rolling components. The washers may be grooved in some cases, especially for ball bearings. Depending upon the application and the amount of axial load, the end user is recommended to choose between the various types to carry out the operation successfully. These different types are categorised basis the shape of raceways as well as the type of rolling components.
- Thrust ball bearings- these are composed of balls as the rolling element which are supported in a ring. They are generally used in applications where low axial loads are prevalent
- Tapered thrust roller bearings- they have small rollers which are tapered and their arrangement is such that their axes converge at one point on the bearing axis. It is necessary to calculate the diameter of the narrow and wide ends and the length of the roller in order to get smooth working of the roller and avoid skidding
- Cylindrical roller thrust bearings- these bearings consist of small roller which are cylindrical in shape and their placement is such that they are arranged flat and their axis point to the bearing axis. They have good load withstanding capacity and cost efficient but wear quickly owing to greater friction generation. However, new techniques are developed to reduce the friction and thereby wear of these bearings
- Spherical roller thrust bearings- the rollers used in these types of bearings are spherical in shape but are asymmetrical. They roll inside the house washer with spherical inner shape. They show the highest load rating density as compared to all other thrust bearings
- Magnetic bearings- they use magnetic field to employ magnetic levitation or magnetic suspension to support loads. This implies they extend assistance to moving parts without any physical contact and withstand the loads. This also means that the amount of friction generated is very less or negligible and there is zero mechanical wear and tear. There is no limit for maximum speeds and they can support very high speeds. There are different components in magnetic bearing system, namely, an electromagnet, a sensor, a rotor, an amplifier and a controller; each of these having their respective responsibilities towards the well-functioning of the entire bearing system and failure of either one of these components will result in malfunctioning of the bearing
- Fluid film thrust Bearings- in these bearings, there are couple of pads which are sector shaped. They are arranged in such a way that they are free to pivot as they are placed around the shaft in circular arrangement. Wedge shaped regions are created between the rotating disk and pads for oil which can withstand loads and avoid contact of metals and thereby eliminate chances of friction and wear
- Angular contact thrust ball bearings– they have raceways in the outer and the inner rings which are relatively displaced to each other in the path of the bearing axis. This implies that they are so designed that they can be used to carry simultaneously acting axial and radial loads, in other words they can be used to withstand combined loads. The axial load bearing capacity increases with increase in the angle of contact (between the range of 10-45 degrees) but lowers the radial load capacity and hence the name angular contact thrust ball bearings
Thrust Bearings Market: Applications
Thrust bearings are used in a wide range of applications in various fields such as automotive, aerospace applications, marine equipment, petroleum production, mining, power generation, cement processing, power transmission, wind turbines, material handling systems, metal recycling and aggregate crushing. They are deployed in briquetting machines rolling mills, rubber mixing equipment, rotary dryers and in machines that are used in paper processing, in construction equipment, fans, blowers, gear boxes, plastic machinery, electric motors and traction motors and in pumps. They are used in modern cars as the forward gears use helical gear system which create axial forces in order to aid smooth functioning and noise reduction. They are also used to lessen the axial loads prevailing in antenna rotators. In automobiles, a type of thrust bearing called clutch release bearings is used.
Thrust Bearings Market: Growth Factors
The advent of technologies have propelled the quick adoption of the various types of thrust bearings as per the application and their load bearing requirements. Several developments and innovations have taken place which are enhancing the performance of these bearings and aim to reduce or eliminate the disadvantages of certain old types of thrust bearings.
The rising automotive and aerospace industry has led to increased adoption of thrust bearings, especially spherical load thrust bearings and magnetic thrust bearings. This has facilitated good growth potential for these two types. Moreover, the steam turbines which are facing severe market demands for improvements in performance, are using thrust bearings with higher specific loads; which has contributed to improve the efficiency of the turbines. All these aspects have raised the bar of the adoption of these several thrust bearings thereby contributing to the growth of the global thrust bearings market.
Thrust Bearings Market: Key Players
The key players in the spherical roller bearing market include Schaffler, SKF, Timken Company, JTEKT, NSK Ltd. and NTN Corporation. Other players are Aurora Bearing, AST Bearings LLC, FYH Bearing, Baltic Bearing Company and Precision Bearings Pvt. Ltd.