How to Choose the Right Bearing for Your Application

How to Choose the Right Bearing for Your Application

Manufactured needle bearings move in a linear fashion along a conveyor.

Bearings carry the weight of the world, acting as essential components of every kind of conveying you can imagine. But all bearings aren’t created equal! Choosing the right type of bearing for your application will make a big difference in the efficiency and longevity of your equipment. Different applications need different bearings to handle various loads, speeds, and environmental conditions. 

We’ll explore seven different types of bearings—vibratory bearings, radial insert ball bearings, spherical roller bearings, cylindrical roller bearings, angular contact ball bearings, needle roller bearings, and tapered roller bearings—and delve into their ideal applications. 

Understanding Bearing Types

Spherical Roller Bearings

Spherical roller bearings are known for their ability to accommodate heavy radial loads and moderate axial loads in both directions. Their self-aligning feature helps to compensate for misalignments between the shaft and the housing. Ideal applications are heavy machinery, mining equipment, and wind turbines. 

In these applications, the capacity to handle high loads and adjust for misalignment is crucial. Schaeffler’s spherical roller bearings are engineered to provide excellent performance under these demanding conditions, ensuring stability and reliability.

Cylindrical Roller Bearings

Cylindrical roller bearing showing an open cross section. Cylindrical roller bearings are designed to handle high radial loads and operate at high speeds. They are typically used in applications where there is a need for both precision and high load capacity. Ideal applications are gearboxes, electric motors, and pumps.

Cylindrical roller bearing shown with open cross section.These bearings are ideal for applications requiring precise shaft guidance and support. A great product example is Schaeffler’s cylindrical roller bearings, which offer low friction and high rigidity, making them suitable for high-speed and high-precision environments.Split cylindrical roller bearing shown in split configuration, along with a cross section on one piece to show the raceways.

Split cylindrical roller bearings are also available from Schaeffler, making assembly around a shaft significantly easier– thereby saving you costly downtime!



Angular Contact Ball Bearings

Angular ball bearing with single row and plastic cage. Partial cross-section shown of balls and raceways.Angular ball bearing with double row and plastic cage. Partial cross section shown.Angular contact ball bearings are designed to handle both radial and axial loads, with high axial load capacity in one direction. They are particularly suited for high-speed applications where both types of loads are present. Ideal applications include machine tool spindles, pumps and compressors. 

These bearings are excellent for applications that require precision and can accommodate high speeds and loads. For even more demanding applications, Schaeffler’s FAG double-row angular contact ball bearings can support axial loads in both directions and high radial loads.

Vibratory Bearings

Vibratory bearings are designed to withstand the extreme conditions found in applications such as vibratory machinery, screens, and compactors. These bearings are robust and can handle heavy loads, Two different vibratory bearings are shown with partial cross sections. high speeds, and harsh environments with significant vibrations. Ideal applications are vibrating screens, crushers, and compacting machines. 

These applications typically subject bearings to high levels of stress and impact. Schaeffler’s FAG spherical roller bearings for vibratory applications can handle the intensity. They’re specifically built to absorb and manage these forces effectively, ensuring a longer service life and reduced maintenance downtime.

Radial Insert Ball Bearings

Radial insert ball bearings are versatile and easy to install. They feature a spherical outer surface which allows for misalignment adjustments, making them suitable for applications where shaft deflection or misalignment can occur. Ideal applications are agricultural machinery, conveyor systems, and textile machinery.

Four visuals of a radial insert ball bearing painted black are shown in various states of cross section and assembly. These bearings are particularly useful in environments where ease of maintenance and reliable operation are critical. Schaeffler’s radial insert ball bearings are designed for durability and ease of replacement, making them a cost-effective choice for many applications. They are also easy to install, long lasting, and an economical solution for rugged reliability.

Schaeffler’s FAG Black Series radial insert ball bearings feature the company’s proprietary Durotect BS black oxide-coated component, which offers superior protection against corrosion. 

A needle roller bearing with cross section is shown.
Needle Roller

Needle roller bearings have a high load-carrying capacity and are suitable for applications with limited radial space. They consist of long, thin rollers which reduce friction and support heavy radial loads. Ideal applications include automotive transmissions, hydraulic pumps, and aircraft control systems.

These bearings are ideal for compact, high-load applications. For example, Schaeffler’s TB roller design has a special torus-shaped curvature that enables loads to be distributed across a greater surface area, lowering bearing temperatures and increasing permissible axial load and bearing life. 

Deep Groove Ball Bearings

Deep groove ball bearings are the most widely used type of rolling bearings. They have deep raceway grooves and can handle radial loads and moderate axial loads in both directions. These bearings are known for their versatility and high-speed capabilities. Ideal applications include electric motors, household appliances, and automotive applications. 

These bearings are highly versatile and can be used in a wide range of applications due to their simple design, low friction, and high-speed capabilities. Schaeffler offers their FAG Generation C deep groove ball bearings, which were specially developed for low noise levels and frictional torque. Improved bearing kinematics, new seals and cages, and a refined manufacturing process elevate this version of a common bearing to the top of the list. 

Tapered Roller Bearings

Tapered roller bearings can handle large radial and thrust loads due to their tapered inner and outer ring raceways and tapered rollers. They are designed to manage combined loads efficiently. Ideal applications include axle systems, gearboxes, and construction machinery. 

These bearings are suited for applications with heavy combined loads and require precise alignment. Schaeffler’s tapered roller bearings offer durability and high load capacity for demanding applications. 

Many of Schaeffler’s tapered roller bearings are also available in X-life™ quality, which means the material, heat treatment process, geometry, surfaces, dimensional accuracy and running accuracy are all optimized.

Bearing Selection Cheat Sheet 

When selecting the right bearing for your application, remember the following factors:

  1. Load Requirements: Determine whether your application involves high radial, axial, or a combination of both loads. 
  2. Speed: Consider the operating speed of your machinery. 
  3. Alignment and Misalignment: Evaluate the potential for misalignment in your application. 
  4. Environmental Conditions: Assess the operating environment, including temperature, contamination, and vibration levels.


In conclusion, selecting the right bearing for your application involves understanding the specific demands of your machinery, and choosing a bearing that can handle those requirements. By considering load, speed, alignment, environmental conditions, you can make an informed decision when purchasing your next bearing– and that will ensure optimal performance of your machinery. 

Still have Bearing Questions?

IBT stands for Industrial Bearing and Transmission– so bearings are our speciality! You can contact our bearing experts for help with any question you may have. You can also visit one of our branches– find the location nearest to you HERE

Or, you can also shop our wide selection of bearings online at!! 

Cylindrical roller bearing showing an open cross section.

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