Journal Bearing vs Ball Bearing: Which Bearing Is Right For You?

Journal Bearing vs Ball Bearing

If you are looking for a replacement for your old journal bearings, there are a couple of different options available to you. You will need to learn more about both of these types of bearings, including what they are, their benefits, and which one you should choose.

What are journal bearings?

A journal bearing is a cylindrically shaped component that is used to support a rotating shaft. This type of bearing is useful in a variety of different applications. It can be found in rotating machinery such as large turbines, pumps, and fans. They have very low friction and are resistant to corrosion.

There are two primary types of journal bearings. The first is a plain cylindrical bearing. Plain cylindrical journals have an excellent performance record and can be found in a wide range of applications. However, this type of bearing does require a special design to accommodate liquid lubricants.

The second type is the hydrodynamic journal bearing. In this type of bearing, the shaft rotates in a shell that is fitted with a pair of curved washers. As the shaft rotates, a hydrodynamic oil film forms between the shell and the bearing. This film acts as a seal and prevents contact between the surfaces.

Journal bearings can be made from solids or polymers. Polymer bearings can be used in applications where they are not subject to extreme load conditions. But they cannot withstand high-speed operations.

High-speed journal bearings can have a vortex, which occurs when oil in the bearing is at a natural frequency. This vortex can cause instability, and is something to keep an eye out for. You can minimize the effect by changing the pressure or viscosity of the lubricant.

What are ball bearings?

Ball bearings are a type of device that is used to reduce friction. These are used in many different applications. They can be used to support radial or thrust loads.

They are made of a number of different materials. The most common material is stainless steel. However, there are a number of other materials that are also available.

In addition to stainless steel, ceramic balls are also an option. Ceramic ball bearings are durable, lightweight and have excellent corrosion resistance. Silicon nitride ceramic balls, for example, are highly resistant to temperature fluctuations.

Metal balls are also available. These are typically used for freewheel mechanisms, as well as other demanding industrial applications. They are also used in roller applications.

Plastic ball bearings are another alternative. Plastic ball bearings are made from plastic rings. This type of bearing is magnetic. While they do not require any maintenance, they have limitations on how much weight they can carry.

Other bearing types are manufactured using molded plastic cages. These have less friction than pressed steel cages.

Ball bearings are commonly used in household equipment such as appliances and sliding doors. They are also found in transport, including automobiles, planes and trains. Several varieties are available, with each type suited for a certain application.

The materials that are most commonly used to produce ball bearings include chrome steel and stainless steel. These are usually paired with polymer to protect against damage.

Benefits of Journal Bearings

Journal bearings are used to support both vertical and axial loads. They are also used to handle shock and vibration. The design and construction of a journal bearing affects its performance.

Journal bearings can be either plain or two-piece. Plain journal bearings are constructed of a rotating shaft held by a stationary housing. Two-piece journal bearings have two separate halves, one for each side. These are typically used in dowel applications.

A journal bearing’s lubrication can extend the life of a bearing. A lubricant must be chosen properly. Lubricants include grease and oil. Grease offers a thicker lubricant than oil, which can protect against shock loading. Oil is also used as a lubricant in some bearings. However, it can generate heat, and may cause cavitation. If the viscosity of the oil is high, the bearing is more prone to cavitation.

In most cases, the best choice of lubricant is grease. Grease can withstand static and shock loading and is suitable for bearings that frequently turn in and out. Some greases are formulated with low-viscosity base oils and solid molybdenum disulfide (moly).

Typically, a low-speed pin or bushing is used as a journal bearing. Grease is almost always used to lubricate the pins or bushings. Changing the oil’s pressure and viscosity can reduce the formation of an oil vortex. This can cause instability in a shaft, and can be avoided.

Benefits of Ball Bearings

Journal bearings are used in many industries. Their simple design makes them cost effective and durable. They can be manufactured from a wide range of materials. But there are some key factors to consider before buying a journal bearing.

The lubrication of these bearings is crucial to its operation. Failure to properly lubricate the bearing can cause damage to the shaft. It can also cause accelerated wear. In addition, heat generated by the internal friction of the fluid lubricant can lead to cavitation.

A full hydrodynamic oil film is important for bearings that support heavy loads. This prevents shaft wear and contamination. However, this lubrication regime requires a higher level of oil viscosity than in lower-speed bearings.

In high-speed applications, a vortex of oil can form in the film. Reducing the oil pressure and temperature can help reduce the vortex. Other ways to reduce the vortex include increasing the load and modifying the direction of the rotation.

Oil ring lubrication is a common method of lubricating the bearing. Although the cost of oil rings is low, they can only provide sufficient lubrication at operating speeds.

Another factor to consider is the oil film thickness. An ideal thickness depends on the bearing eccentricity. Some designs allow for thinner oils at operating temperatures. For example, in medium-sized industrial equipment, a minimum of 5 to 75 microns is required.

In low-speed applications, a hydrostatic jack can be used to force the oil between the curved surfaces of the shaft and the shell. Depending on the type of jack, a range of operating speeds can be achieved. Generally, the speed of rotation is limited to about 175 to 250 meters per second.

Which One Should You Choose?

You can choose between journal bearings and ball bearings. These types of bearings work for different applications, but what is the best choice? In this article, we will look at the key points to consider.

Bearings are used in all kinds of applications. They include construction equipment, machine tools, automotive and aerospace. There are many advantages and disadvantages to each type. To make sure you’re getting the most from your investment, read on for a comparison of the top types.

Ball bearings are usually a better choice for high-speed applications. However, roller bearings are a much better choice for intermittent operations. Roller bearings produce more centrifugal force than ball bearings of the same size.

Plain bearings are also a good choice for a wide range of applications. Their spherical shape makes them an ideal choice for supporting misalignments. The most important benefit of plain bearings is that they have less resistance to friction than roller bearings.

Journal bearings, on the other hand, are a better choice for shock absorbers. While they do require a thick film of oil to keep them running smoothly, their internal and external components are less prone to fatigue. Another benefit is that they use less radial space than rolling-element bearings.

The best type of bearing is the one that fits your machine and is easily replaced when it breaks down. Choose from a variety of different types, including ball, roller, journal and plain.


One of the main differences between journal bearings and ball bearings is that the former rely on a fluid film that acts as a lubricant. It reduces friction between the rotating part and the bearing and helps it operate smoothly.

The pressure distribution in the lubricating film can be measured under different operating conditions. A new instrument can be used to measure this, and significant information can be derived.

Ultrasound techniques have become increasingly used to study the behavior of journal bearings. These methods offer non-invasive direct measurement of the shaft-bearing interface. This technology could be applied in many different applications.

In the past, ultrasound studies on journal bearings have focused on normal operating conditions. However, dynamic loading has been proposed as a possible extension of the utility of this technique.

In this study, an experimental rig was developed to test a journal-thrust wave bearing. Several test specimens were analyzed for their performance. Six steel specimens plasma coated with ceramics and sixteen monolithic ceramics were tested.

The results showed that the three-wave bearing ran stably under dynamic loads. The orbits were almost circular. They did not start to self-excite until about 800 to 900 rpm.

However, the performance range of the bearing decreased with the number of waves. Therefore, a suitable selection of wave amplitude was needed to achieve optimal performance. Using a computational method, the wave amplitude was chosen.