What is a Spherical Plain Bearing?

Bearings are common machine elements that are implemented within countless assemblies for minimizing friction between moving surfaces and constraining motion. Depending upon the assembly and its requirements, there are multiple types of bearings that may be used, each with their own unique characteristics and designs. In particular, the spherical plain bearing is a type of radial spherical plain bearing capable of managing high radial loads with consistent performance under harsh conditions.

Regarding their design and construction, spherical plain bearing components feature an inner ring with a spherical convex surface and an outer ring with a spherical concave surface. Due to their design and part construction, such bearings may be used in situations where alignment and movements between the housing and rotating shaft must be managed. Additionally, the spherical plain bearing may also control the sliding speeds of oscillating or recurrent tilting and slewing movements, ensuring that they are slow. Depending upon one’s needs, such bearings or bushings may be procured with varying sliding surfaces and ring materials. Often, these variations are classified as either being spherical plain bearings that require maintenance or spherical plain bearings that are maintenance-free.

For steel-on-steel types that require maintenance, such components may have their outer rings constructed from hardened carbon chromium steel or carbon steel. To facilitate ball entry, hardened chromium carbon steel bearings will utilize axial or radial splits. Carbon steel outer rings, meanwhile, will encapsulate the inner ring. To ensure proper functionality and lower rates of wear, some spherical plain bearings will feature molybdenum disulphide (MoS2), hard chromium plating, or a bronze lining on the sliding surfaces. Meanwhile, rings can be coated with phosphate to guard the assembly against corrosion. If there is a concern regarding contamination, some radial spherical plain bearings requiring maintenance will have seals implemented.

When constructing maintenance-free spherical plain bearings, the most common materials used include hardened stainless steel, carbon steel, and hardened carbon chromium steel. For ball entry, hardened chromium steel and stainless steel bearings will have either an axial or radial split configuration. With carbon steel outer rings, such components may be pressed around the inner ring or may utilize radial splits that are assembled with the use of screws. For the inner rings of such spherical plain bearings, copper alloy, hardened stainless steel, or carbon chromium steel is used. Similar to those that require maintenance, maintenance-free spherical plain bearings may take advantage of sealing, wear and tear protection, and more.

With the various types of spherical plain bearing components available, many applications may benefit from their use. Generally, such bearings are found within markets pertaining to mining, construction, agriculture, material handling, and off-highway equipment. In such markets, spherical plain bearings may be implemented within hydraulic cylinders, vehicle suspensions, articulated joints, heavy-duty linkage pivots, high load hitch assemblies, and more. If you find that you require various spherical plain bearing components, plain sleeve bearing parts, or other such hardware products, let the experts at ASAP NSN Distribution help you source everything you require with unmatched pricing and lead-times.

ASAP NSN Distribution is an online distributor of aircraft parts, and we are your sourcing solution for top quality bushings and bearing components that cater to a diverse set of industries and applications. Our inventory contains over 2 billion items, all of which have been sourced from leading global manufacturers that we trust. Take the time to explore our offerings at your leisure, and our team of industry experts is always ready to assist you throughout the purchasing process however necessary. Send us a completed RFQ form at your earliest convenience and receive a personalized quote for your comparisons in just 15 minutes or less!


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