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What is the difference between radial bearings and axial bearings?

While all ball bearings reduce rotational friction, ...

... some high precision bearings are specially manufactured to withstand support loads, or bearing loads, in various directions. Two examples are radial loads and axial loads, or thrust loads.
GGB offers a range of plain bearing solutions that are able to support radial loads, axial loads, or both types of loads.




Radial ball bearings are designed to withstand forces that are perpendicular to the direction of the shaft, or radial loads. Radial bearings are the most common type. 

In some applications, ceramic bearings, a type of radial bearing, are used to withstand high rotational speeds. The rolling elements are ceramic, which is significantly lighter than steel. This reduces the centrifugal force within ceramic bearings at high speeds. 

GGB cylindrical bearings, with their high load capacity, are designed to support large radial loads. Our Fiber Reinforced Composite Bearings are especially apt for these applications with load capacities up to 415MPa.



GGB-Megalife XT thrust washers

Axial bearings, or thrust bearings, are designed to withstand force in the same direction as the shaft. This is called an axial load, or thrust load. 

GGB thrust washers and flanged thrust washers are offered for applications with heavy axial loads. These washers are available as a special form of our popular plain bearings including DP4® and DU® self-lubricating bearing materials. 

In addition, GGB-MEGALIFE® XT Thrust Washer with PTFE tape liner is offered as a fiber reinforced composite PTFE thrust washer for heavy axial load applications that also require a solution with good chemical resistance.



Some ball bearings are able to withstand a radial and axial load applied on the shaft, these combined axial/radial load bearings are achieved by axial angular contact. The angle of these axial radial bearings allows the axial load and the radial load to be distributed more evenly along the axial angular contact ball bearing.

For applications with high radial loads and the possibility of light axial loads, GGB Metal-Polymer Flanged Bearings are recommended.

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