Tougher Bearing Materials Abound

Today we have many new advancements in bearing parts that are helping to improve the performance and life of bearings.Sour gas compressor bearings, which use three advanced materials:Silicon nitride, which is used in rolling elements; stainless steel, for use in bearing rings; and PEEK (polyetheretherketone), a high temperature plastic that can be used to create bearing cages. The use of these three materials are prolonging the life of the bearings, lasting over 10 times longer than their predecessors.

While they are more expensive upfront, over the long term they help save money. “Everybody likes a bargain, but it is often worth paying more in the short term in order to reap long-term benefits,” Kahlman said. “How many times have we gone for a cheaper option – and bemoaned the ‘false economy’ later? Says Lars Kahlman, senior application expert at SKF.

Using the ceramic material, silicon nitride (Si3N4) and conventional metal together are allowing both higher speeds and better electrical insulation. These bearings sets being “greased for life”, can also be used to fix an already poorly performing bearing. Because they can run at high speeds and with electrical properties, it makes them exceptionally helpful in variable speeds.

When choosing bearing parts in the past we have struggled between corrosion resistance and fatigue performance. Now with using super-tough stainless steel in hybrid bearing rings you get the best of both worlds. A long-lasting bearing ring that fights fatigue performance and corrosion at the same time.You may think replacing metal with plastic, PEEK, may seem like a poor judgement call, but it gives many benefits and even some advantages over metal. PEEK is light weight, easily mass produced in injection molding, performs well at a high temperature and is also strong and ridged with excellent creep resistance. In addition, it resists radiation and a large range of solvents.

Without companies such as, ASAP Semiconductor, there would not be such a readily available market helping to bring these new and innovative bearing set materials around the globe. The more availability will not only bring down material fabrication costs, but also help boost the aerospace industry into the future.


January 6, 2021

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