The global bearings market is expected to grow significantly due to increasing commercial and industrial machinery and manufacturing activity. Bearings are used in virtually every machine that contains a rotating shaft to rotate freely with minimal friction.

The design of conventional cageless bearing systems is inefficient due to both sliding and incidental friction losses as well as viscous losses due to the requirement for lubrication. Hence, the main problem is mechanical inefficiency. Additionally, some of the systems also incorporate complex components into their design, such as gear teeth or harmonic gear cups that increase cost. For heavy-duty vehicles, 26% of the fuel energy is spent overcoming parasitic frictional losses such as bearing loss. If bearing loss can be significantly reduced, the fuel efficiency of such systems could be significantly improved.

Cylindrical roller bearing to support radial loads. The inner race is shown in light blue, the outer race in grey, separators in dark blue, and load-bearing rollers in gold.

A normal cageless bearing was developed with added rolling separator elements to overcome these issues. This design reduces friction by ensuring the rolling elements are only ever in pure rolling, as opposed to sliding contact that involves higher frictional losses. Additionally, these elements are not in sliding contact with the inner race.

The proposed bearing system eliminates sliding friction losses by ensuring that all contacting surfaces have the same velocity, leading to pure rolling, thereby reducing incidental contact. This design can be modified into a friction drive transmission device with a small form factor by splitting the outer race into two parts. The result is a low-cost, low-noise and high-efficiency system with no sliding, incidental, and viscous losses.

For more information, contact Ryne Dubose at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Motion Design Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2018 issue of Motion Design Magazine.

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