Custom Bearing FAQ

At Carter, our specialty is in customized solutions. We have some of the fastest lead times in the industry on special bearings along with a knowledgeable in-house team to help you choose the necessary modifications for your application. With some help from Penton Publishing, our team put together an FAQ on the subject which we wanted to share with you. You can download the full FAQ here, or continue reading for some of the highlights. 

What are the benefits of custom bearings? What advantages do they give engineers and the companies for which they work?

Custom bearings let engineers design and use components tailor-made for their specific applications. Such bearings can have longer working lives or better resist corrosion, thanks to bearing material chosen to resist contaminants in an application’s working environment. This reduces replacement and maintenance costs. Custom bearings can be produced with greater load ratings than ‘standard’ selections. They can also be made smaller or lighter to make installation easier. And from a market perspective, they can capture aftermarket replacement business for the OEM.

Can custom bearings be made of any material, be any size, and have specific performance parameters? Can they be ordered in any volume? Is there a minimum or maximum order size?

Any material available in bar stock, metal or plastic, can be used for bearings. This includes 300 series stainless steel, tool steels, and alloys, as well as Acetal, Nylon, UHMW, polyurethane, and other polymers. And any material can be turned into a bushing or the outer race, or even rolling elements. Many custom bearing makers are limited to making bearings 12 inches in diameter or less, but others can make larger ones. Carter Manufacturing will make only one or two bearings if that is all a customer needs, or supply OEMs tens of thousands of bearings per month.

What features or materials can be incorporated into custom bearings that you won't find in standard offerings? And why would designers want those materials or features?

The reasons for getting custom bearings are typically to solve specific problems or meet unique needs. For example, special features can be added to give bearings that are typically not re-greasable a re-lube capability. Customizing standard bearings by using a different steel alloy can increase shock resistance and solve fracturing problems. And specifying polyurethane outer races can prevent damage to items that come in contact with the bearings.

What kind of lubricant do custom bearings require?

Selecting the proper lubricant can be an important factor in a bearing, custom or standard, for achieving its optimum life. To select the right lubricant, maintenance personnel should determine the ambient and peak temperatures and other environmental operating conditions that will help in making the best choice.

What are the cost differences between standard and custom bearings?

It depends on quantity and what is special about the bearing. When volumes are high enough, costs for custom bearings will approach those of standard catalog items. If the custom feature can be produced by modifying an existing standard part or component, costs and lead times are quite reasonable.

What is the average time range between ordering and delivery for custom bearings?

As with the cost, it depends on quantity and what is ‘special’ about the bearing. A bearing with custom inner and outer races and plating may take eight to ten weeks. Relatively simple custom orders involving small modifications can ship in as little as two weeks. Each job should be assessed beforehand to provide the most accurate delivery.