Beside their simplicity of design and cost-effectiveness, plain bearings provide greater load capacity and significant space and weight savings for lighter, more compact designs. In addition they compensate for misalignment, reducing edge loading and dampening noise and vibration. Because they contain no moving parts, plain bearings also provide quieter, more reliable performance and require little to no maintenance.
These advantages are being realized by design engineers who are replacing roller bearings with plain bearings in a wide range of applications, including wind turbines, agricultural equipment, steering systems, air conditioning compressors, engine rocker arms, throttle butterfly valves, gearboxes and transmission systems, and kingpins, among others. Potentially promising applications include offshore FPSO systems, brake mechanisms, alternators and starter motors.
Plain bearings are not suitable for all applications, especially those requiring ultra-low friction and/or high-precision shaft location. However they typically outperform roller bearings in applications involving high loads and slow oscillating movements which can damage rolling element bearings and cause them to fail prematurely.
Replacing traditional roller bearings with GGB plain bearings can provide users with both a technological and competitive advantage. Greater contact area and conformability provide high load capacity and resist damage from fatigue, shock and edge loads. The frictional characteristics of plain bearings also resist the inertia and high-speed skidding to which roller bearings are subject, and they tolerate misalignment better than many rolling-element designs.
Their slim, one-piece construction and smaller housings save space and weight, and simple press fitting into machined housings virtually eliminates the potential for installation damage. Converting to plain bearings also can yield substantial savings from lower parts costs, relaxed shaft tolerances and surface finish requirements, less bulky housings, and simpler, lower-risk assembly.
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