While hardly the most pressing matter in the world of industrial machinery, have you ever wondered exactly how ball bearings are made? They have to be perfectly smooth and round, which obviously makes it difficult to mass produce them, and yet mass produced they are.
They are one of the most simple components of machinery and in engineering, and yet they are a vital if tiny part of keeping everything ticking along nicely. Their smoothness is the key to their usefulness, so how exactly are manufacturers able to make them so perfect?
As the leading ball bearings supplier in Yorkshire, YB Components did some research and found out.
Ball bearings begin life as a rod of metal wire which has approximately the same diameter as a standard ball bearing. Yorkshire’s YB Components found out this rod is placed into a heated forming operation to make the rod hot, although there is an alternative method which uses a cold forming operation.
Whichever operation is being used, the rod is fed through a heading machine which includes special concave-shaped indents on both sides. The heading machine then closes on the rod, cutting through it and leaving the end piece inside the heading, forcing it become roughly spherical.
Though immediately producing a ball bearing-like sphere, the end product still has a metal ring around the edge from the edges of the heading machine closed on the original rod. This ring is called a flash.
Another special machine consisting of two rill plates starts to refine the shape of the rough spherical object. These rill plates are two circular ridged and grooved plates that have had their middles cut out like a ring donut. One of the plates remains static while the second plate rotates, moving the spherical product around in a circular path. The ridges and grooves of the rill plates dance with the spherical product until the uneven edges of the flash are whittled away and the product becomes perfectly round.
Cool and Hard
Water is now poured over the still imperfect ball bearing to cool it down and allow it to harden. The ball bearings have also been hardened through the rill plate process due to compaction, but if they are still not hard enough then the ball bearings will be heat treated until they are of the correct hardness.
As a ball bearing supplier, Yorkshire’s YB Components know that ball bearing products need to be very precisely sized. So the next step in creating ball bearings is to grind them down to a precise size. This grinding process also helps perfect the spherical roundness that ball bearings must have to perform optimally. The machine used is similar to the one with the rill plates, with a special abrasive component used to eliminate any final imperfections.
Spit and Polish
The final part of the process is to polish the balls until they are nice and shiny. A different kind of rill plate is used for polishing, one that is much less abrasive. It places less pressure on the balls and shines up the surface without removing additional material.
If you require any ball bearings, then contact YB Components who are the UK’s leading ball bearings supplier in Yorkshire. We keep local stocks of all such parts and more ready to ship out fast and free all over the UK and the rest of the world.