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Bearing (mechanical)

TLDR: Bearings are machine parts that help reduce friction and control motion between moving parts. They come in different types and materials, and have been used since ancient times.

A bearing is a machine element that helps control the movement between two parts and reduces friction. It can allow linear or rotational motion, or prevent motion altogether. Bearings are important because they minimize friction, which can cause wear and tear on the moving parts. They are classified based on their type of operation, the motions they allow, and the directions of the loads applied to them.

The term "bearing" comes from the verb "to bear," which means to support. The simplest bearings are surfaces that support another part, while more complex bearings are separate devices installed into a machine. The most advanced bearings are very precise and require high standards of technology to manufacture.

There are different types of bearings. Rotary bearings hold rotating components and transfer loads from the source to the supporting structure. Plain bearings are the simplest form, consisting of a shaft rotating in a hole. Ball bearings and roller bearings reduce friction by using rolling elements between the races or journals of the bearing assembly. There are also jewel bearings, fluid bearings, magnetic bearings, and flexure bearings, each with their own unique characteristics and applications.

The history of bearings dates back to ancient times. The invention of the rolling bearing, in the form of wooden rollers supporting an object, is of great antiquity. The Egyptians used liquid-lubricated runners and plain bearings in their machinery. Wheeled vehicles with plain bearings emerged around 5000 BC. The earliest recovered example of a rolling element bearing is a wooden ball bearing from 40 BC. Leonardo da Vinci incorporated ball bearings in his designs, and the first patent for a radial-style ball bearing was awarded in 1869.

Bearings are used in various applications, such as dental drills, aerospace equipment, automobiles, and optical alignment systems. They come in different materials, including wood, bronze, ceramic, steel, and plastic. The choice of material depends on the specific application and requirements. Lubrication is important to reduce friction and ensure smooth operation. Bearings may require periodic maintenance, such as lubrication and cleaning, to prolong their service life.

In summary, bearings are machine elements that reduce friction and control motion between moving parts. They have been used since ancient times and come in different types and materials. Bearings are essential for efficient and reliable operation in various applications.

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