What are bearings?
Bearings are machine elements used in a wide array of industrial applications, where a rotation between different components at low friction values is desired. A proper lubrication is essential not only for the system to function correctly, but also to extend the useful life of the various acting machine elements.
What are the typical sources of failure in bearing lubrication?
Generally, improper lubrication and the use of an inadequate lubricant are the most common reasons why a bearing does not operate optimally. The term “inadequate” includes here, among other, the incompatibility of the fluid with the surfaces and with other fluids present in the system (for example, another lubricant), or an insufficient viscosity. The user also has to keep in mind how much lubricant is needed, as there is an optimum amount for which friction values become minimum. Indeed, too much lubricant may lead to excess heat buildup in the contact during operation, whereas an insufficient amount could consequently bring higher friction values. Contamination of the lubricant could also play a major role in accelerating the failure of the element.
Thus, the purpose of bearing lubrication is to cover the rolling and sliding contact surfaces with a thin layer of oil, enough to avoid a direct contact between the metal surfaces. If done effectively, friction, abrasion, and heat generation would be reduced. Additionally, correctly lubricating a bearing would prevent rust and corrosion to appear on its surfaces, and contamination. Ultimately, the useful life of the bearing would be extended.
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