intense production demands, longer running times and more corrosive environments, all of which are putting machinery components like bearings under more pressure – especially in heavy duty equipment with high radial and axial loads. Until recently, the bearing industry has


ike many sectors, the food and beverage manufacturing and packaging industries are experiencing

been unable to engineer a bearing capable of withstanding significant axial loads in a way that minimises downtime and delivers reliable machine performance. Now, thanks to a period of intense innovation, axial load is no longer the forgotten criteria.

Understanding forces: axial and radial There are two main types of load. Radial load refers to the loads acting at right angles to the shaft, and axial loads are applied parallel to the shaft in both directions. While many bearings are designed to handle either axial or radial loads, high-load applications in heavy side industrial applications often require a combination of the two - a requirement that, due to limitations in manufacturing, has been left largely unmet. To best serve the needs of high-load

applications that have both types of forces in play, many bearing manufacturers and OEMs will use a combination approach - using a pair of bearings to accommodate the load in each direction. The shortcomings of this method mean more space requirements within the machinery - increasing its overall footprint on the factory floor - as well as potential complications with both assembly and access for ongoing maintenance. While there is an increasing number of

bearings on the market that are designed to handle both radial and axial loads, they work by inclining the radial elements to give some axial capacity. In doing so, they trade off radial capacity for axial - a solution that limits the axial load capacity, limiting application usage or putting the bearings at risk of failure.

Strength and rigidity Both radial and axial load specifications directly relate to the strength and rigidity of the bearings, shaft, and overall machinery. Exceeding these specifications in an application with a high axial load may result in damage to the bearing and have a different impact on efficiency. In fact, studies suggest that exceeding either radial or axial load specifications by 10% may reduce the lifespan of the components by about 1,000 hours - as well as running the

Ian Breeze, technical director at Bowman Advanced Split Bearings, explores bearing specification improvements for high-load machinery in the food and beverage industry

very real risk of unplanned downtime. For applications with a high axial load, these solutions are far from ideal. Recent innovations in the manufacture of

split roller bearings, and the use of additive manufacturing to create more complex component geometries, are allowing bearing manufacturers to accommodate axial or multidirectional loads as a primary consideration, extending system life and reducing downtime.

With no need to invest in expensive tooling, or

set up traditional manufacturing production lines, it is possible to experiment with design features in a way that simply wasn’t possible previously. For Bowman, the technology has facilitated the creation of a bearing that offers a substantial increase in axial and radial load capacity, as well as increased durability, functionality and turnaround time. In a standard split bearing design, the rollers

run against the outer race lips and clamp rings on the inner race assembly of the bearing, creating stress, friction, and a lower tolerance for axial loads. Using engineering-grade 3D- printed Nylon-11 and the latest printing technology, the company has been able to create a bearing design that removes the axial locating lips from the bearing outer race. This means that the radial roller length, as well as the actual number of rollers, can be increased - giving both a higher load capacity and an approximate increase of x5 radial L10 life.

1000% increase in axial capacity By adding axial roller and cage assemblies to their design, Bowman has overcome the issue of reductions in axial load by using three sets of rolling elements to allow independent handling of the radial and bidirectional axial loads. The design incorporates the usual benefits of a split bearing system - including bearing changes of up to ten times faster than solid bearings - while increasing the radial capacity by between 25%- 75% and the axial capacity by 1000% compared to standard solutions.

The Advanced Split Bearing assembly has been designed to promote ease of use and flexibility


Bowman Advanced Spilt Bearings

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