Bushings vs Bearings: Key Differences and Uses
Get to know bushings vs bearings by reading this helpful guide.
Numerous types of machines that operate efficiently due to moving parts are used extensively across a wide variety of industries. Most of these machines will stop functioning as designed if something goes wrong with the bushings and bearings.
The primary functions of both bushings and bearings are to minimize the friction generated when two moving parts within machines interact. They also help minimize the energy needed to set those components in motion while significantly limiting the wear and tear of the components.
Let’s look at the details of these essential compressor parts.
What Are Bushings?
Bushings refer to cylindrical components primarily designed to support loading on shafts that function with sliding motion between moving surfaces. A bushing is a single-element component. But it may be composed of different materials.
Bushings – also known as sleeve bearings – slide over shafts or rods in order to provide extremely low-friction motion. This provides superior shock absorption and works to minimize noise, energy usage, as well as wear.
Types of Bushings You Should Know
Two major types of bushings are flange and sleeve bushings. When bushings come with flanges, they easily handle combined loads.
Bushings can be threaded on external or internal surfaces in order to accommodate a wide variety of assembly conditions.
Bushings are also made from different parent material compositions, which enable them to withstand a wide range of conditions such as high temperatures, corrosion, high pressure, etc.
- Plastic Bushings
This type of bushing has corrosion-resistant properties and is lightweight. Modern plastic bushings easily withstand softening, heat sensitivity, reduced life, or wear at elevated temperatures.
Plastic bushings are an excellent choice for humid or wet environments. But they are not recommended bushing material for incredibly heavy loads.
- Bronze Bushings
Bronze bushings are constructed from cast bronze materials in order to ensure uniform structures. These general-purpose bushings possess excellent wear protection and load-carrying capabilities. They also have the ability to withstand high levels of heat.
- Metal Bushings
Metal bushings are constructed from several alloys or metals in order to boost their capabilities. Some metals include aluminum, stainless steel or steel, copper, and brass.
What Are Bearings?
Bearings are mostly supporting rotating shafts in machines. They permit relative movements between machine components while providing a specific type of location between them.
The bearing depends significantly on the type of constraints it is applied to and the nature of the relative movement.
The multiple component designs of most bearings make them easily distinguishable from bushings. The component designs include a cage containing the rolling elements – i.e., rollers or balls – the rolling elements themselves, as well as an outer (in direct contact with the bore) and inner race adjacent to the shaft on which all the rolling elements interact.
Bearings are vital components since everyone knows that metal-on-metal contact is highly abrasive. This can cause the rapid degradation of the material, which creates a resisting force known as friction.
Bearings make it possible for the two interacting surfaces to glide or slide or roll over each other instead of grinding against each other. The former occurs by transferring the overall weight of the load to the rolling elements. This action allows the device to spin as desired or designed.
Types of Bearings
Different types of bearings exist, but they serve the same purpose and possess practically the same structure. These bearings have 2 surfaces that move smoothly over one another. These mating parts move without friction and can work with linear or rotational motion.
Here are the major types of bearings you should know:
- Roller bearings
These bearings are capable of taking heavier loads than ball bearings. They have tapered or cylindrical shapes, constructed from stainless steel and fitted between outer and inner races. The #1 role of roller bearings is to reduce friction between static components and moving shafts.
Roller bearings are perfect for high-speed applications since their low-friction design does not make noise or generate heat. They are used extensively in electrical motors, gearboxes, pumps, etc., across several industries, including mining, construction, and automotive.
- Ball bearings
These are steel or ceramic balls or spheres – that perform at high temperatures – fitted between outer and inner rings in order to create the traditional ball bearing. They are primarily designed to support the rotating shafts while minimizing friction between moving and static components.
The bearings can have single or multiple rows depending on the application.
Two ball-bearing types exist:
- Deep-groove ball bearings: these have high radial load capacities.
- Angular contact ball bearings: These can easily manage high axial and radial loads.
Ball bearings are employed in a wide variety of applications, from everyday skateboards to aerospace engineering, etc.
- Needle bearings
They are usually small but tough enough to help reduce friction in smaller applications. They have a thin and needle-like appearance and are also rigid enough for applications requiring oscillatory movement.
Needle bearings come in handy in limited clearance areas and can also be used for keeping down weight. They are used extensively in several applications such as domestic appliances, etc.
- Rod End bearings
These easy-to-fit, light, and compact rod end bearings are excellent for heavy alternating loads. They have a unique design, consisting of a round head with integral shanks that house plain spherical bearings. They are fixed, meaning users won’t have trouble dealing with the misalignment properties commonly found in other bearings.
The Significant Difference Between Bushings and Bearings
In reality, there isn’t any significant difference between bushings and bearings. A bushing refers to a specific type of bearing. Bearings facilitate movements between two components within a machine while minimizing friction. Typical bearings come with 2 surfaces that roll seamlessly or frictionlessly over one another.
Bushings vs Bearings
Bushings are technically identical to bearings. The only difference is that bushings are single and independent one-part devices, while bearings mostly have multiple parts.
Bushings – like bearings – are used for supporting shafts and function with sliding motion between moving surfaces. But bearings are not inevitably a type of bushing.
Bearings are designed to minimize friction energy wear and losses, which help reduce maintenance expenses. Most bearings are utilized in order to support the rotating shafts in powered equipment.
Bushings are constructed from bronze or brass, while bearings are often self-lubricated and made from metallic materials.
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