Do Ceramic Bearings Make a Difference?
Ceramics are non-metallic, nonferrous materials that do not corrode as metals do. Furthermore, ceramics are nonmagnetic and excellent insulators.
They’re ceramic bearings commonly employed in industrial equipment, race cars, racing bikes and motorcycles. Additionally, they find applications in high-speed electric motors requiring voltage isolation.
Ceramic bearings were originally developed for industrial uses to reduce friction in high RPM (revolutions per minute) situations. This is due to their smoother, more uniform surface and size of ceramic balls and their harder ball-to-ball contact.
They require less lubrication than steel bearings, which helps improve lubricant retention and minimizes the risk of overheating the grease. This increases bearing life by prolonging its serviceability.
By nearly 50%, heat can be reduced from the bearing, helping it remain performance at high speeds and avoiding burning out.
Ceramic bearings can make a difference, but their majority of energy-saving benefits do not stem from their ceramic composition but rather from effective seals and cages. Therefore, investing in ceramic bearings for those who ride less than 10000 km annually isn’t worth it as the savings will be minimal.
Ceramic bearings boast a much longer lifespan than standard steel bearings, lasting up to five times longer and offering greater durability compared to metal ones.
Ceramics are more durable and resistant to damage due to their toughness; they also withstand higher temperatures, so they don’t corrode as quickly.
Ceramic balls are significantly harder than steel, which allows them to run cooler and require less lubrication – especially important in high speed applications.
Ceramic material’s inherent insulating qualities can also shield surfaces from static electricity damage. This is a particularly prevalent issue with metal bearings, as the lubrication film melts between steel balls and raceways when static electricity passes through them.
Ceramic bearing materials of choice include silicon nitride and silicon carbide, which offer good resistance to various chemicals. Zirconia oxide is another popular option that has excellent corrosion resistance – making it an ideal choice for environments with plenty of liquids.
Ceramic bearings are lighter in weight due to their non-metallic materials such as silicon nitride or zirconia. Furthermore, these materials are more durable than steel due to their resistance to corrosion and ability to withstand harsh chemicals better.
Steel wheels are also more rigid than their steel counterparts, enabling them to spin faster without flexing or deforming in the bottom bracket.
Ceramic bearings have the unique properties that make them ideal for industrial applications requiring high load, speed and temperature. They can operate up to 20-40% faster than steel bearings while using less energy due to reduced centrifugal force when the outer race rotates.
Professional cyclists typically opt for ceramic bearings as they save a few watts, and usually get paid per watt saved. Unfortunately, for average cyclists, however, the benefits are insignificant enough not to justify switching out.
Ceramic bearings have become increasingly sought-after for their superior performance in a variety of industries. Common materials used include Zirconia (ZrO2), Silicon Nitride (Si3N4) and 99% alumina (AI2O3).
Ceramics offer the greatest durability when exposed to extreme temperatures and environmental elements, outlasting stainless steel in this regard. Furthermore, ceramics exhibit better oxidation and rust resistance than their stainless steel counterparts.
These qualities make them a suitable substitute for standard bearings in numerous applications, such as mixing chemicals or operating medical equipment.
Additionally, these materials are chemically inert – meaning that they do not react with or release hazardous by-products when exposed to corrosive agents. This property makes them ideal for applications where contamination could prove fatal.
However, they are much more expensive to manufacture than metal bearings due to the need for a clean environment and skilled staff.