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Roller bearings `last three times longer`

01 October, 1999

Roller bearings `last three times longer`

SKF has unveiled a new generation of spherical roller bearings with the claim that they will last up to three times longer than other ball bearings. The bearings are the result of a research effort by a multidisciplinary team of SKF engineers, started in 1995. The company attributes the enhanced performance of the bearings to engineering improvements at the micro and molecular levels.

Henning Wittemeyer, SKF`s head of technology development, claims that the new bearings represent a significant leap in bearing abilities. They "set a new standard for endurance and performance," he says, adding that they are "so good that we had to modify certain parameters in the formula to calculate their life expectancy".

As well as promising longer lives, the Explorer bearings are said to offer higher load ratings. They are the same size as standard bearings and can, therefore, be used to upgrade existing machines. SKF says that by changing to the new bearings, the torque of a gearbox can be boosted by 15-25%, depending on the operating conditions.

The higher load ratings will also make it possible to "size down" or "power up" designs, leading to reduced dimensions, savings in weight and costs, and higher efficiencies, the company adds. Smaller bearings will run cooler and generate less vibrations, it says.

Wittemeyer suggests that the bearings will influence the work of design and maintenance engineers. "Maintenance schedules can be revised and new performance options opened up," he says.

Applications for the new bearings include fans, pumps, printing machinery, steel mills and paper plants. After extensive testing at SKF`s engineering and research centre in the Netherlands, the Explorer bearings are now being manufactured in the UK, Sweden and Malaysia.

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