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Roller Bearings VS. Ball Bearings - What's the Difference?

Roller Bearings VS. Ball Bearings - What's the Difference?

As a general rule, ball bearings are used at higher speeds and lighter loads than are oller bearings. Roller bearings perform better under shock and impact loading.


Ball bearings are usually sold as assemblies and are simply replaced as units. Roller bearings can often be disassembled and the roller carrier and rollers, or the outer or inner races, replaced individually. Rear-wheel-drive cars use such arrangements for the front wheels. The advantage of this design is that the races can be shrunk fit onto shafts and into housings to create permanent assemblies without risking damage to the rollers themselves.


Single-row ball bearings are standardized and can be used interchangeably among manufacturers. Roller bearings are less-formally standardized so a specifier needs to consult a manufacturer's catalog to select one appropriate for the application.


Rolling element bearings are manufactured with a certain amount of internal clearance. Any misalignment that merely nudges a ball out of position and removes this internal clearance should not have much effect on the life of the bearing. Roller bearings are more sensitive to angular misalignment. For instance, a ball bearing running at moderate speed with a farly loose fit might operate successfully with angular misalignment as high as 0.002 to 0.004 in./in. between the bearing and shaft. A cylindrical roller bearing, in comparison, might be in trouble if misalignment exceeded 0.001 in./in. Manufacturers will generally provide acceptable ranges of angular misalignment for their individual bearings.