Thrust bearing

Last updated
A thrust ball bearing Thrust-ball-bearing din711 ex.png
A thrust ball bearing

A thrust bearing is a particular type of rotary bearing. Like other bearings they permanently rotate between parts, but they are designed to support a predominantly axial load. [1]


Thrust bearings come in several varieties.

A tapered roller thrust bearing Self-aligning-roller-thrust-bearing din728 ex.png
A tapered roller thrust bearing
Miba Fluid Film Thrust Bearing Miba Thrust Bearing.jpg
Miba Fluid Film Thrust Bearing

Thrust bearings are commonly used in automotive, marine, and aerospace applications. They are also used in the main and tail rotor blade grips of RC (radio controlled) helicopters.

Thrust bearings are used in cars because the forward gears in modern car gearboxes use helical gears which, while aiding in smoothness and noise reduction, cause axial forces that need to be dealt with.

Thrust bearings are also used with radio antenna masts to reduce the load on an antenna rotator.

One kind of thrust bearing in an automobile is the clutch "throw out" bearing, sometimes called the clutch release bearing. [3] [ clarification needed ]

Fluid film thrust bearings

Exploded view of a Michell type thrust bearing. Note, each sector shaped pad can pivot on the ridges on the lower plate Fluid thrust bearing.PNG
Exploded view of a Michell type thrust bearing. Note, each sector shaped pad can pivot on the ridges on the lower plate

Fluid-film thrust bearings were invented by Albert Kingsbury, who discovered the principle in the course of bearing and lubrication investigations commencing in 1888 while a student. His first experimental bearing was tested in 1904. He filed for a patent in 1907, and it was granted in 1910. [4] The first Kingsbury bearing in hydroelectric service, one of its major applications, was installed at the Holtwood Generating Station in 1912. It remains in full use today.

Thrust bearings were independently invented by Australian engineer George Michell (pronounced Mitchell) who patented his invention in 1905.

Fluid thrust bearings contain a number of sector-shaped pads, arranged in a circle around the shaft, and which are free to pivot. These create wedge-shaped regions of oil inside the bearing between the pads and a rotating disk, which support the applied thrust and eliminate metal-on-metal contact.

Kingsbury and Michell's invention was notably applied to the thrust block in ships. The small size (one-tenth the size of old bearing designs), low friction and long life of Kingsbury and Michell's invention made possible the development of more powerful engines and propellers. They were used extensively in ships built during World War I, and have become the standard bearing used on turbine shafts in ships and power plants worldwide. (See also Michell/Kingsbury tilting-pad fluid bearings)

Until now thrust bearings play an essential role in rotating equipment like expanders, pumps, gas or steam turbines or compressors. Next to the traditional babbitt bearings which were used since the early 20th century new materials for the thrust pads became into use. For example Bronze and Copper-Chromium are commonly used to improve the bearings performance. [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

SKF Worlds largest bearing manufacturer

AB SKF is a Swedish bearing and seal manufacturing company founded in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1907. The company manufactures and supplies bearings, seals, lubrication and lubrication systems, maintenance products, mechatronics products, power transmission products, condition monitoring systems and related services globally.

Ball bearing Type of rolling-element bearing

A ball bearing is a type of rolling-element bearing that uses balls to maintain the separation between the bearing races.

Fluid bearings are bearings in which the load is supported by a thin layer of rapidly moving pressurized liquid or gas between the bearing surfaces. Since there is no contact between the moving parts, there is no sliding friction, allowing fluid bearings to have lower friction, wear and vibration than many other types of bearings. Thus, it is possible for some fluid bearings to have near-zero wear if operated correctly.

Bearing (mechanical) Mechanism to constrain relative movement to the desired motion and reduce friction

A bearing is a machine element that constrains relative motion to only the desired motion, and reduces friction between moving parts. The design of the bearing may, for example, provide for free linear movement of the moving part or for free rotation around a fixed axis; or, it may prevent a motion by controlling the vectors of normal forces that bear on the moving parts. Most bearings facilitate the desired motion by minimizing friction. Bearings are classified broadly according to the type of operation, the motions allowed, or to the directions of the loads (forces) applied to the parts.

Plain bearing Simplest type of bearing, comprising just a bearing surface and no rolling elements

A plain bearing, or more commonly sliding contact bearing and slide bearing, is the simplest type of bearing, comprising just a bearing surface and no rolling elements. Therefore, the journal slides over the bearing surface. The simplest example of a plain bearing is a shaft rotating in a hole. A simple linear bearing can be a pair of flat surfaces designed to allow motion; e.g., a drawer and the slides it rests on or the ways on the bed of a lathe.

Rolling-element bearing Bearing which carries a load with rolling elements placed between two grooved rings

In mechanical engineering, a rolling-element bearing, also known as a rolling bearing, is a bearing which carries a load by placing rolling elements between two concentric, grooved rings called races. The relative motion of the races causes the rolling elements to roll with very little rolling resistance and with little sliding.

Babbitt (alloy)

Babbitt metal or bearing metal is any of several alloys used for the bearing surface in a plain bearing.

Tapered roller bearing Type of roller bearing which can support axial loads

Tapered roller bearings are rolling element bearings that can support axial forces as well as radial forces.

Sven Gustaf Wingqvist Swedish engineer

Sven Gustaf Wingqvist was a Swedish engineer, inventor and industrialist, and one of the founders of Svenska Kullagerfabriken (SKF), one of the world's leading ball bearing and roller bearing makers. Sven Wingqvist invented the multi-row self-aligning ball bearing in 1907.

Spherical bearing Bearing that allow limited angular rotation orthogonal to the shaft axis

A spherical plain bearing is a bearing that permits angular rotation about a central point in two orthogonal directions. Typically these bearings support a rotating shaft in the bore of the inner ring that must move not only rotationally, but also at an angle.

Brinelling is the permanent indentation of a hard surface. It is named after the Brinell scale of hardness, in which a small ball is pushed against a hard surface at a preset level of force, and the depth and diameter of the mark indicates the Brinell hardness of the surface. Brinelling is permanent plastic deformation of a surface, and usually occurs while two surfaces in contact are stationary and the material yield strength has been exceeded.

A thrust block, also known as a thrust box, is a specialised form of thrust bearing used in ships, to resist the thrust of the propeller shaft and transmit it to the hull.

Albert Kingsbury Engineer and inventor

Albert Kingsbury was an American engineer, inventor and entrepreneur. He was responsible for over fifty patents obtained between the years 1902 to 1930. Kingsbury is most famous for his hydrodynamic thrust bearing which uses a thin film of oil to support weights of up to 220 tons. This bearing extended the service life of many types of machinery during the early 20th century. It was primarily outfitted on Navy ships during World War I and World War II.

Yaw bearing

The yaw bearing is the most crucial and cost intensive component of a yaw system found on modern horizontal axis wind turbines. The yaw bearing must cope with enormous static and dynamic loads and moments during the wind turbine operation, and provide smooth rotation characteristics for the orientation of the nacelle under all weather conditions. It has also to be corrosion and wear resistant and extremely long lasting. It should last for the service life of the wind turbine) while being cost effective.

Roller screw

A roller screw, also known as a planetary roller screw or satellite roller screw, is a low-friction precision screw-type actuator, a mechanical device for converting rotational motion to linear motion, or vice versa. Planetary roller screws are used as the actuating mechanism in many electro-mechanical linear actuators. Due to its complexity the roller screw is a relatively expensive actuator, but may be suitable for high-precision, high-speed, heavy-load, long-life and heavy-use applications.

NTN Corporation

NTN Corporation is one of the most prominent manufacturers of bearings in Japan, second domestically only to NSK Ltd. The company is one of the largest exporters worldwide of friction-reducing products such as constant-velocity joints.

Spiral groove bearing Hydrodynamic bearings using spiral grooves to develop lubricant pressure

Spiral groove bearings are self-acting, or hydrodynamic bearings used to reduce friction and wear without the use of pressurized lubricants. They have this ability due to special patterns of grooves. Spiral groove bearings are self-acting because their own rotation builds up the pressure needed to separate the bearing surfaces. For this reason, they are also contactless bearings.

Spherical roller bearing Rolling-element bearing that tolerates angular misalignment

A spherical roller bearing is a rolling-element bearing that permits rotation with low friction, and permits angular misalignment. Typically these bearings support a rotating shaft in the bore of the inner ring that may be misaligned in respect to the outer ring. The misalignment is possible due to the spherical internal shape of the outer ring and spherical rollers. Despite what their name may imply, spherical roller bearings are not truly spherical in shape. The rolling elements of spherical roller bearings are mainly cylindrical in shape, but have a profile that makes them appear like cylinders that have been slightly over-inflated.

Spherical roller thrust bearing Type of roller bearing which supports axial loads and permits angular misalignment

A spherical roller thrust bearing is a rolling-element bearing of thrust type that permits rotation with low friction, and permits angular misalignment. The bearing is designed to take radial loads, and heavy axial loads in one direction. Typically these bearings support a rotating shaft in the bore of the shaft washer that may be misaligned in respect to the housing washer. The misalignment is possible due to the spherical internal shape of the house washer.

Lewis Rasmus Heim was an American machinist and businessman who was the inventor of the Centerless Cylindrical Grinder, the Heim Joint Rod End Bearing and a pioneer of modern spherical, ball and roller bearings.


  1. "Introduction To Thrust Ball Bearings". SKF Bearing. 2022-03-18. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  2. "Why SKF Spherical roller thrust bearings". SKF. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  3. "Clutch release bearings/Drivetrain-related products (drivetrains)/Automotive Aftermarket/ Field/Product Information/Koyo Bearings (JTEKT)". ベアリング. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  4. "Kingsbury Thrust Bearing - ASME".
  5. "Miba Thrust Bearings".