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Ceramic Ball Bearings vs. Steel Balls Bearings: Is There Any Real Difference?

Steel ball bearings have been the standard bearings used in industrial electric motors for many years. When one particular product has been used for so long, we understand that it can be difficult for people to make the switch to something else, even if it may be a better product that offers superior performance.

Steel bearings have served many people well for a lot of years, but if you find that you are replacing your steel ball bearings more frequently than you’d like, or if your bearings are running at a high temperature, perhaps it is time for you to consider switching to ceramic hybrid ball bearings.

Ceramic balls truly are superior to steel balls in every aspect, including performance and longevity, but if you’re someone who likes specifics, read on as we compare steel ball bearings to ceramic hybrid ball bearings.

Reduced Friction

Ceramic balls, when manufactured by a top-quality bearing manufacturer like CBR Bearing, are rounder, lighter, and smoother than steel balls. This reduces friction (by up to 40%!), as well as energy loss, allowing your equipment to run more efficiently. Their relative lightness also reduces the load on other bearing components, resulting in increased speeds.

In addition, ceramic hybrid ball bearings require less lubrication than steel bearings since the surface of ceramic balls is much smoother.

Resistance to Corrosion

Steel balls corrode over time, even with optimal lubrication, but ceramic balls never corrode. This greatly reduces the possibility of bearing failure and equipment downtime. CBR’s aerospace-grade ceramic balls will also not chip or fracture, even under harsh conditions. Overall, ceramic hybrid ball bearings may last up to ten times longer than steel bearings!

Affect on Bearing Races

Steel balls have a tendency to create cracks in the bearings’ races, but ceramic balls, with their smooth finish, actually polish the races over time. The hardness of ceramic balls also allows them to crush any particles that make their way into the bearing, so they don’t cause damage to the races.

More Precise

Ceramic balls are less prone to expansion than steel balls, which means bearings with ceramic balls will be more precise than steel bearings and produce less vibration.

Electrically Non-Conductive

If you have an electric motor that is controlled by a variable frequency drive, it is important that you use an electrically non-conductive bearing. Our silicon nitride ceramic balls eliminate the possibility of electrical arcing occurring through the bearing.

All of the above-mentioned characteristics of ceramic balls make for a superior ball bearing when compared to bearings with steel balls. Yes, the initial cost of ceramic hybrid ball bearings may be higher than traditional steel ball bearings, but when you consider their superior, long-lasting performance, it usually more than justifies the expense. And if you haven’t priced ceramic ball bearings recently, you may be surprised at their affordability.

Check out Businessing Magazine for more information more about ceramic ball bearings or other tips on small business and manufacturing.

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