25 Jul 2024


New steel process boosts bearing performance

SKF has developed a new method of processing bearing steel that it says will result in improved performance and longer operating lives, even in applications where there are high levels of contamination. It is using the new process to upgrade and expand the Explorer self-aligning roller bearing range, which it launched in 1999.

All of SKF’s spherical roller bearings, Carb toroidal roller bearings and most of its spherical roller thrust bearings will now carry the Explorer name. 

The new steel-hardening process includes a low-temperature processing stage that enhances material properties without requiring a commercially unviable processing time. The resulting steel has a much finer microstructure than before, resulting in good dimensional stability and strength, even where there are high levels of contamination or poor lubrication.

The new bearings, available in a variety of sizes and specifications, are said to deliver smoother, cooler operation under demanding conditions. The improved load-carrying capacity will allow users to choose smaller bearings in some applications, potentially cutting costs.

Redesigning the bearings’ rolling elements, cages and guide rings has enhanced their performance and reliability further. Floating guide rings ensure that the rolling elements are aligned correctly, with high load-bearing strength, reduced friction and low operating temperatures, while internal geometries and surface finishes eliminate stresses on moving parts and ensure an efficient build-up of oil films with long lubricant lives.