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Bearing Lubrication: Oil or Grease?


Modern bearing lubricants serve multiple functions depending on the application. These include creating a barrier between rolling contact surfaces or sliding contact surfaces. The lubricant also protects surfaces from corrosion and seals it against contaminants.

Some lubricants such as oil also provide heat transference, which is why it is one of the two major lubricant types primarily used in industry along with grease.

Oil or Grease as Bearing Lubricant

Oil lubricants are usually used in high speed applications or in applications that generate high temperatures. Oil’s heat transferring properties help transfer the generated heat away from the bearing’s surfaces. The oils used with bearings are often either a synthetic oil or a natural mineral oil, sometimes with additives mixed in that help prevent oxidation.

Synthetic oils usually consist of polyalphaolefins which is the most frequently used synthetic base oil used in industrial and automotive lubricants. Polyalphaolefin doesn’t have ring structures, double bonds, sulphur, waxy hydrocarbons or nitrogen components. The lack of these elements makes it a non-polar base oil with a high viscosity index, which gives it excellent oxidation stability as well as compatibility with other mineral oils. Polyalphaolefins also don’t contain any of the more volatile  hydrocarbons which keeps the oil’s volatility level down.

You will frequently see polyalphaolefins used in hydraulic and automotive fluids as well as with lubricants for gears and bearings. It is a popular ingredient as it works well in either very cold or hot conditions.

Lubricant Viscosity

The viscosity of the lubricant is usually the most important characteristic when choosing a lubricant for industrial bearings. Suppliers like Yorkshire-based YB Components will often recommend the type of lubricant a particular part requires, though the manufacturers should also provide this information too. Because grease often has a lot more viscosity than oil, it is a more popular lubricant for a lot of bearing types.

The extra thickness of grease is vital for the separation of the rolling and sliding elements in industrial bearings. Grease lubricants will still consist of between 80 and 90% mineral or synthetic oil, but with added thickeners creating the requisite viscosity.

Industrial Bearing Supplier in Yorkshire

Bearings are part of the many industrial gearbox and gear motor unit parts that bearing supplier YB Components keep local stocks of. Businesses based in Yorkshire areas such as Castleford, Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield, Pontefract and Knottingley can often benefit from same day delivery because of these local stocks. Even further afield, delivery is quick with no extra charge.

As well as being a bearing supplier, Yorkshire’s YB Components keep stock of many other parts such as gearboxes, couplings, clutches, belts, wheels and chains.

If you require any industrial bearings, Yorkshire-based YB Components keep local stocks ready to ship fast and free all over the UK and the rest of the world, so contact YB Components who are the UK’s leading bearing suppliers in Yorkshire.