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The advancement of society through the evolution of Bearings.

Presents the cyclical marriage of bearings and technological within our society.

a k

on 14 December 2012

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Transcript of The advancement of society through the evolution of Bearings.

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Images from Shutterstock.com What are mechanical bearings? A bearing is simply something that supports a weight load.

One of the most common types that people are familiar with are Ball Bearings:


These are often found in skateboard wheels and bicycle wheels. Bearings are used all around us. There are a vast variety of types, shapes, specific purpose bearings available.

Common types include:


This is not a comprehensive list but note that each type of bearing will have several subsets. For example ball bearings can be angular contact, axial, deep groove, caged, flanged... to name a few.1

1. Where does the story begin? A painting from the fifth Egyptian Dynasty (c. 3000-680 B.C.) shows the use a bearings. It resembles a ladder that had solid discs running on axles. 1

Roman Chariots wheels using a pointed bone in a cup. 1
Eskimos had frozen wale bone runners on their sleds. 1
primitive Europeans used stag horn in a socket. 1
484-424 B.C. Greek historians write about the use of bearings to move large ships across land. 1
330 B.C. Greek engineers invent a battering ram that rides on a series of bearings. 1

The list goes on but here is a illustration that sums it up. Mechanical bearings have advanced us to and through the industrial revolution.

Despite the importance that bearings play in our everyday lives, without the industrial revolution they would have had far less of an impact. Early history shows the concept of the bearing dating back the the Egyptian era in the form of logs, which where used to move objects by rolling underneath. 2

Although this doesn't look like the bearings of today it was the start. As time passed, man and technology evolved to create the ball bearing.

Davinci in fact had many bearing designs, but it wouldn't be until 1794 that a bearing that could hold the weight of a wagon would be introduced. 1 As the industrial age brought the ability to use metal, ball bearings where actually created and recognized. However earlier than that ball bearings made of naturally oily wood where used in propellers on ships. 2 Common materials Bearings vary in material but are commonly made of:


The really important metals weren't available until the industrial revolution. 1

Once we had access to these metals bearings where transformed and as a result they help catapult us into the modern age. Once just drawings of an engineer/artist, many of the inventions Leonardo da Vinci once thought up became possible with new case hardened steel. Standards With new harder stronger metals available for bearings the list of uses skyrocketed.

With bearings being manufactured around the world, things like size, life span, strength, and even how to package the bearings became opinion. Standards on bearing size are essential for consistency in manufacturing.

This leads to the ability to manufacture machinery to a given size knowing that you will be able to get bearings for the initial build and future maintenance.

The size consists of height, width and sectional area and allows bearings to have a scale as which to be measured against. 1 The standards governing the type of metal used in a bearings is continually changing as the need, access to resources and manufacturing techniques change.

Initial metals where too weak and could not withstand wear. Not until the 1900's did we have access to case hardened steels which gave metal bearings real use. Because bearings can have different sizes and load ratings different metals my be used based on application or cost. 1 With standards in place and bearing manufacturing in full swing our lives where effected in many unseen ways. The 1900's was a boom of the industrial era that offered a constant supply of new products, both of which solved problems with bearings and created more challenges for them.

The speed of cars where changed in part by the reliability that case hardened steel bearings offered and for the fist time many states started to implement speed limits of 20 mph. 7 During World War II The targeting of ball bearing factories in Germany by U.S. Forces successfully disrupted the German economy and ability to manufacture military machinery.

This aided to the increase of bearing manufacturing in other countrys. 5 Whats Left Bearings are embedded in the the history of humanity.

Today they are much of an after thought for most of us.

It would seem that we now have reached the pinnacle of what can be done with bearings, but changes and advancements are still occurring. Bearings where created to conserve energy, and are often made from recycled steel which is ignoring the differences in conservation between bearing types. The environmental impact of roller ball bearings have far reaching effects that can be felt beyond the the obvious. The obvious being;

the carbon foot print created from production of roller ball bearings.
the waste created by non recycled ball bearings. 6
incorrect disposal of greases used in the operation and maintenance of ball bearings. 6 Due modern demands on sustainability several organizations are searching for solutions to these issues. 6 One solution that is the works according the the Japanese Bearing Industry Association (JBIA), is to reduce the oil based lubricants and coolants used in the grinding process.

There is global pressure for companies to be sensitive to ecological concerns. 6

They aim to answer by moving from lithium based greases to natural based greases. 6

This improves the ability of the grease to decompose by 47% . 6

Which in turn will have direct and indirect positive environmental changes. Where do we end? The end of the presentation but not the end of bearings.

Through the use of bearings our world has changed drastically.

The automobile was able to reach speeds that presented the need for high speed interstates.

Bearings where even used in the machinery that built the interstate. Bearings have enabled automobiles to become a primary aspect of our lives. In turn this has led to the need for free ways.

The free ways brought other opportunities to utilize unused parts of the cityscape in the form of skate parks.

The bearings themselves even contributed to the design of the skate park through skateboard evolution. This park has been designed as an after thought, but built for a specific purpose. The over pass it's self has several architectural features
such as I-beams supports and are reinforced with concrete and our life changing steel. The park is also built out of concrete and steel which led to today's bearings. This picture shows the full circle of material to object to architecture, where they seemed to have built each other. Rhodes Skate park, 1555 W Front St Boise Id, Under Interstate 184. 9/24/12 Industry is created by bearings. Which leads to more innovation. And in turn creates more industry. Bibliography

1. Allan, Robert King. Rolling Bearings; A Comprehensive Treatise Covering History, Theory, Design, and the Practical Application and Use of Ball and Roller Bearings. London: I. Pitman, 1946.

2. Bearing Specialist Association, “The Domestic Bearing Industry: Investing in the future, 2006, ” http://www.bsahome.org/tools/pdfs/Domestic_Bearing_Industry_web.pdf (accessed Sept 20, 2012).

3. Brown, Peter. 2009. "BALL BEARINGS. (cover story)." Scientific American 301, no. 3: 76. MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed August 30, 2012)

4. 2004. "BSA Publishes a History of Bearings". Industrial Distribution. 93: 16-18.

5. Central Intelligence Agency. “The Beginnings Of Air Targeting.” Last Modified Sept 22, 1993, https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/vol7no1/html/v07i1a10p_0001.htm

6. Japan Bearing Association Global Environment committee. “Rolling Bearings contribute to the Environment.” Japanese Bearing Industry Association. http://www.jbia.or.jp/e/pdf/environment.pdf

7. Smith, Kelvin M. 2012. "Analyzing the essentials of BEARING PERFORMANCE." Machine Design 84, no. 7: 60-63. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed September 21, 2012).

8. Wikipedia. "Ball Bearing" image. last modified n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_bearing 1 1
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