Ball Transfer Bearings in Conveyor Pulleys

November 7, 2018

Like the business end of a ballpoint pen, ball transfer bearings move smoothly in any direction. Elsewhere, rows of rubber-coated rollers conduct their load in one of two directions. For a long rubber belt, it’s much the same situation. The product goes forward, it goes backwards, or it’s shuttled off to the side by a secondary system asset. Cut free of such limitations, those balls deliver omnidirectional product transportation.

A Nearly Omnidirectional Product Transporter 

Okay, ball transfer bearings don’t work on all three dimensions. Floating off into mid-air, that wouldn’t be a conveyor system anymore. But, operating on a conveyor deck, those mini balls do flatly transport commodities in any other direction, left or right, backwards or forwards, and in any combination of those directional vectors. Better yet, the balls are configured in arrays, with their shiny upper halves delivering gliding smoothness to their cargo. An unwieldy item may weigh down a rubber belt, but that loading issue simply won’t occur on ball transfer bearing equipment. Mounted as steel-encased spheres in their socketed apertures, the little spheres manage all kinds of challenging payloads.

A Densely Equipped Conveyance Army 

The ballpoint pen metaphor serves well here, with the drawn comparison illustrating the smooth advantages of an easy-glide ball transfer bearing line. Heavy components move effortlessly down the line. It’s a little bit like a trackball in a computer mouse. After a period of time has passed, the prime moving components are forgotten as their key features take over. In steel-reinforced ball transfer bearings, the heat treated steel only hardens further as the pressure increases. The austenitic material, arranged in tightly packed rows and columns, functions ceaselessly under the most challenging conditions, and we’re not only referring to the omnidirectional load.

Featuring Steel-Graded Hardness 

While there are omnidirectional nylon balls and engineering plastics used in this conveyor system type, these are the exception, not the rule. Plastic does absorb shock impact and resist chemical action, but even the finest polymers can’t compete with chromium steel strength. However, the correctly graded alloy must suit a chosen application. For packaging plants, the omnidirectional balls will function well even if they’re made of milder steels. For heavy industrial applications and chemically intense circumstances, properly alloyed stainless steels are essential. In food processing applications, for instance, the selected alloy should resist corrosion and food acid attacks. 

Last of all, despite rolling like a mouse trackball or ballpoint pen, there’s no lubrication agent in action within the ball sockets. They run dry, so the balls and ball races must feature a finely engineered operational profile. To do otherwise would be to select a less-than-stellar array of omnidirectional elements, one that would squeak and deliver subpar performance.


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