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Hybrid ball-bearing extracts more power from smaller motors

24 August, 2022

SKF has developed a low-friction deep-groove ball-bearing for electric motors that supports high rotational speeds and enables higher power densities, leading to higher power outputs from the same-size motor. The high-speed hybrid bearing is aimed at applications such as electric machines and drives, as well as railway traction motors.

A high-performance two-piece polymer cage pushes the bearing to new limits and gives more flexibility in the design choices. By allowing higher rotational speeds, it operates more quietly and efficiently than bearings with conventional cages.

The lightweight cage can boost the limiting speed by at least 60% compared to traditional brass designs, and twice as much as single-piece polyamide cages, according to SKF. The cage also helps to reduce friction, leading to quieter operation and higher power densities.

“Our new cage design helps our customers to get more power from electric motors, which enables downsizing,” explains SKF business and project engineer, Andreas Pichler.

By improving the efficiency of electric machines, the new bearing can cut energy consumption, increase reliability and cut the total cost of ownership.

Its two-piece cage is made from Peek and PA66, making it 80% lighter than a brass cage. As well as running more quietly, the bearing operates at lower temperatures, prolonging grease life and extending lubrication intervals. This can give engineers more flexibility in their design choices.

SKF says that its high-speed hybrid ball-bearings will allow motors to be downsized

Rigidly connected cage bars ensure robustness, helping to lengthen service lives in harsh conditions. The optimised geometry also eliminates radial deformation from high centrifugal forces – known as the umbrella effect – that can occur on snap-type cages running at high speeds.

SKF has three pilot customers for the new bearings, all of them OEMs.

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