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Thin Section Bearing Lubrication Options for Hard-to-Reach Applications

Thin Section Bearing Lubrication Options for Hard-to-Reach Applications

January 3, 2020

Proper relubrication of your thin section bearings can help you extend the life and performance of your parts. However, there are some scenarios where regular maintenance and bearing lubrication are either difficult to perform – or even outright impossible.

In those cases, you’ll need to find an alternative to ensure that your bearings perform without ongoing support. Fortunately, there are some options available for situations where relubrication just isn’t going to happen.

Solid Lubricant

A solid lubricant is a good option for any thin section bearing that won’t receive any maintenance during its lifespan. Solid lubes utilize a porous, sponge-like polymer that’s added to the bearing to provide a lifetime supply of oil over time. As the parts run, the lubricant will release the proper amount of oil so that the bearing can operate without issue.

In addition to providing a lubrication option for impossible or hard-to-reach parts, another advantage of solid lubricants is that they’re a relatively clean solution. Solid lubes can be made with food-grade or other specialty oils and won’t leak like some standard greases, which makes it a good fit for applications that can’t afford lubricant spills or other issues.

Oil Baths

Depending on your application, you may be able to utilize an oil bath to keep bearings regularly lubricated in out-of-reach areas. An oil bath uses a reservoir that’s either fully or partially filled with oil to allow running parts to effectively lubricate themselves over time.

Essentially, the bearing or some other rotating part is partially submerged in the oil. As that part rotates, it draws oil up and lubricates itself while splashing excess oil onto the other parts within an enclosed space, such as a gearbox. This method can help you limit the number of times the oil is refilled or provide the application with the lubrication it needs before the entire unit is retired.

Sealed Bearings

A sealed thin section bearing is another potential option for an application where relubrication is either difficult or impossible. These parts have built-in closures to protect the inside of the bearings from dirt, water, and other potential contaminants. However, this seal would also require you to dismantle the part to add more lubrication. As a result, manufacturers include enough lubrication within the part for it to last for the expected lifetime of the bearing.

While a sealed bearing may not provide the same lifespan as a properly maintained and regularly lubricated open part, it can be a good solution for situations where maintenance isn’t realistic. If your bearing’s life calculation matches up with your expectations, a sealed bearing’s lubrication will last for as long as you need that individual part.

Invest in the Right Bearings and Lubricants for Your Applications

There is no single best thin section bearing out there, but there is a right choice based on your applications needs. SSB can work with you to determine which style of thin section bearing matches your lubrication limitations, whether that means one of our available styles or engineering a custom thin section bearing around your specific design.

Ready to invest in bearings that are right for your performance needs and budget? Contact us today to talk to our experts about your bearings needs today.

Solving Challenges in the Food and Beverage Industry with Food-Grade Bearings

Solving Challenges in the Food and Beverage Industry with Food-Grade Bearings

September 30, 2019

Every industry is different, which means that one bearing product may be better for one market than another. When it comes to the food and beverage industry, there are several issues that can impact the success of your bearings, including:

  • Extreme temperatures (both high and low)
  • Excessive moisture and chemicals due to continuous cleaning
  • Adherence to strict hygiene standards and regulations
  • The potential of product getting in your parts

Many or all these factors can come into play depending on your application. As a result, it’s crucial to find a food-grade bearing solution that caters to your exact needs. Here are some ways your bearings can address certain issues in the food and beverage industry.

Prepare for Extreme Temperatures

It’s not uncommon for food and beverage applications to encounter both high and low temperatures depending on the nature of the product being made. Each temperature range can cause issues if you use bearing products not designed for hot or cold environments.

High temperatures can cause a couple of bearing issues, starting with lubrication problems. Excessive heat can cause grease to purge its oil, which lessens that lubricant effectiveness and potentially even make the bearing seize up over time. High temperatures can also reduce the hardness of bearing metals if the right material isn’t used, which can lead to early failure.

Like heat, colder temperatures can also impact bearing lubricants. Low ambient temperatures affect lubricant viscosity for both oils and grease and can restrict the flow of lubrication to the bearings. As a result, colder environments can cause excessive friction and damage to the bearing without the proper parts.

To address temperature issues, it’s important to invest in parts designed for your specific environment. Special high- or low-temperature lubricants will resist the affects of temperature change better than standard solutions, while temperature-graded materials will better retain their hardness over time.

Deal with Excess Water and Wash Down Chemicals

Water and cleaning chemicals are no strangers for food-grade bearings. Regular required wash downs present quite a few problems for bearings not designed to encounter frequent contact with moisture or strong cleaning solutions.

One major issue with water and chemicals is that they can cause bearings to corrode over time. Not only does corrosion impact the lifespan of your parts, it can also cause corroded particles to come in contact with your products and contaminate them. Those are both massive issues that can be solved by investing in materials that are resistant to corrosion, like stainless steel.

Another problem with wash downs is that the process can blow the lubricants used in your bearings straight out of the parts themselves. With no lubrication, bearings will not be able to perform the way you had planned and will require you to replace those parts much sooner than you intended. Solid lubricants are like a sponge that releases oil while running and sucks it back up when stopped. This option helps you protect the lubrication while the bearing is not in use.

Embrace Strict Hygiene Standards

In addition to preventing corrosion, bearings must meet food safety concerns in other ways. Over time, there is a chance that a bearing’s lubrication may leak out of the part. While this isn’t an issue in some industries, it’s a major problem when something made for human consumption is involved.

To address this issue, it’s important to use food-grade bearing lubrication that will be fine if it happens to come in contact with food or beverage products. The USDA has set grades for these lubricants depending on where your bearings are used:

  • H1 – Designed for food processing environments with some possibility of incidental food contact
  • H2 – Designed for equipment and machine parts in where there’s no chance that lubricants or lubricated surfaces will contact food
  • H3 – Designed to clean and prevent rust on equipment like hooks or trolleys

Prevent Food from Getting in Your Bearings

Not only is it important to keep the contents of your bearings from getting into your products, it’s also good to keep your product from getting into your bearings. Depending on your applications, there is a chance that dough, meat, or any other substance may become lodged inside of your bearings. As you may expect, bearings aren’t going to work very well when jammed up with food.

Fortunately, a good seal can help you shield your bearings from intrusive food or beverage products. An option like a Buna seal can help you keep foreign debris like food and other contaminants out of your bearings while aiding in keeping lubricants in your parts.

Find the Right Food-Grade Bearings with Slim Section Bearings

Even if you know what challenges you face, it’s not always easy to find the right bearing solutions for food and beverage applications. At Slim Section Bearings, we can help you identify which thin section bearings are best for your situation, whether that involves a standard part or custom food grade bearings. Contact us today to talk to our experts about your bearings needs today.

Three Bearing Lubrication Myths

Three Bearing Lubrication Myths

October 2, 2017

The right bearing lubricant can be the different between a long lifespan for your part and some serious issues for your applications. When using the wrong lubrication can destroy your bearings and create costly downtime, it's important to make sure you have the right information to properly lubricate your thin section bearings and other parts. This means that it's time to dispel some bearing lubrication myths that you shouldn't trust.

Myth No. 1: All Lubricants are the Same

This is not true in the slightest. There are many different types of bearing lubricants. Each one of these options features different benefits that can greatly impact its success in certain applications and environments. These include:

  • Grease lubricants
  • Oil lubricants
  • Solid lubricants
  • Graphite
  • Specialized plating

Another reason why you shouldn't consider all lubricants to be the same is that some lubrication types don't mix well with others. Certain lubricants are simply not compatible with others, which can lead them thinning or thickening if you try to replace your bearing lubrication without checking what was used before. This can result in more wear and tear for your bearings. However, there are some types of lubricants that pair well together, such as oil and solid lubricants.

Myth No. 2: Re-Lubrication Happens Once a Year

Every case is different, but there's a good chance that you should re-lubricate your bearings more than once each year. There are a few factors that can impact your re-lubrication schedule, such as the overall use of your bearings the application environment. It's not uncommon for heavy use and harsh elements could mean that you should re-lubricate once a week, while lightly-used parts in ideal conditions may only require annual reapplication. The biggest factor is that you have a regular re-lubrication schedule no matter how long it takes between dates.

Myth No. 3: You Can Store Bearing Lubrication Anywhere

Not exactly. Lubricants can be easily contaminated, so any storage area with dirt, dust, or other similar substances can ruin your product. Contaminated lubrication is bad for business, so you'll want to store bearing lubrication in a dry, cool, and clean space where containers can be rotated and used on a first-in, first-out basis.

Use Proper Lubrication for Your Bearings

A good lubricant can help your applications run smoothly for a long time. Of course, the right bearing lubrication isn't the only piece to the puzzle. It's important to find the right bearings along with proper lubrication.

As a premier thin section bearing supplier, Slim Section Bearings can help you find the right parts for your applications, as well as which lubricants are best suited for your needs. Contact us today to talk to our experts about your bearing needs.