For aircraft construction, bearings and seals are almost always utilized in rotating or rolling components. Bearings are utilized to constrain movement to specific motions and axes, and work to reduce the friction between moving components. Bearings can also work to disperse stress of the component loads. Seals on the other hand, help prevent contamination, such as dirt, from entering the bearing gaps, as well as encases bearing lubricant inside. So what are some examples of the types of bearings and seals that can be used?
The most basic type of bearing is called the plain, or sliding bearing. It contains no rolling elements and can simply be two flat surfaces that allow for motion, such as a drawer. Plain bearings function as the shaft in contact with the bearing, or the journal, slides over the surface of the bearing and rotates. These types of bearings prove to be the least expensive type, as well as have high carrying capacity for loads.
Another popularly used bearing type is the rolling element bearing, or anti-friction bearing. These bearings come in two types: ball and rolling bearings. Ball bearings use solid spheres that rotate quickly on inner and outer races and are used for moderate to heavy load applications. The contact between the ball and race causes sliding motion, and the opposing forces can cause bearing drag. Rolling bearings typically have two rings with the rolling elements inside the tracks. With this method, the outer load is constantly re-distributed amongst the outer rollers.
Seals come in a few different types as well, depending on the needs and application. Non-rubbing seals are a type that has zero friction outside of the lubricant that is used. Rubbing seals, though, require contact to correctly function. Gap seals help to close the gap within bearings and labyrinth are a similar type which provides more closure to gaps. No matter the seal used, they all function to protect and aid the functionality of bearings.
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