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Plain bearings

Plain bearings, also known as sliding bushes or sliding bearings, are basic mechanical components designed to reduce friction and wear between moving parts. Unlike ball or roller bearings, plain bearings are simple in design, robust and do not experience critical failure. They are usually made of low-friction materials such as Teflon coatings, bronze, brass or polymer. Some designs require lubricant for efficient operation, but self-lubricated designs are also available which do not require lubrication or maintenance. They have several key features that make them indispensable in mechanical systems. These characteristics include the ability to withstand high loads, to operate at extreme temperatures, and to operate without noise or maintenance. These properties contribute to their wide use in a variety of industries.

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In mechanical engineering, the world of plain bearings is a critical component that often goes unnoticed. These simple and highly versatile elements are used in a wide range of applications and ensure smooth, reliable and low-friction movement in machinery. In the following, we will explore the field of these bearings and delve into their different types, functions and applications in the world of mechanical engineering.

- Types of plain bearings

Cylindrical plain bearings

Plain cylindrical bearings are one of the most common types of sliding bearings, consisting of a cylindrical sleeve surrounding a rotating shaft. The interface between the sleeve and the shaft is lubricated to ensure minimum friction. Sliding bushings are widely used in industrial equipment such as pumps, fans and electric motors.

Flanged plain bearings

Plain flanged bearings have an added flange on one side to provide additional stability and prevent axial movement. They are often used in applications where alignment and support are essential, such as conveyor systems and agricultural equipment.

Flat sliding bearings

Flat sliding bearings are specially designed to carry axial loads and provide support for rotating shafts. They are common in applications where components need to move linearly or rotate in one direction.

- Application of plain bearings


Sliding bearings play a key role in the automotive industry. They are found in a variety of vehicle components, including suspension systems, engine parts and transmissions, ensuring smooth and efficient operation. 

Industrial machinery

In industrial machinery, these bearings are used in various types of equipment such as conveyor systems, pumps and production machinery. Their ability to withstand heavy loads and harsh conditions makes them an essential component in this sector.

Aerospace and defence

The aerospace and defence sectors rely on plain sliding bearings for their precision and reliability. These bearings are found in aircraft landing gear, control systems and missile launchers where performance and safety are paramount.

- Benefits and challenges

Advantages of plain bearings

The advantages of sliding bearings are numerous, including their simplicity, cost-effectiveness and ability to withstand high loads. Their ability to operate quietly and with minimal maintenance make them the preferred choice in a wide range of industries.

The challenges of plain bearings

Despite their many advantages, plain sliding bearings are not without their challenges. Compared to rolling bearings, they have higher friction. Some designs require proper lubrication and regular maintenance to ensure optimum performance. In some cases, incorrect adjustment or inadequate lubrication can lead to premature wear and failure.

- Conclusion

Sliding bearings, the unsung heroes of the mechanical world, play an indispensable role in providing smooth, low-friction motion in many applications. From the automotive industry to aerospace and everything in between, sliding bearings quietly support the operation of countless devices and machines. Understanding the types, benefits and challenges of plain sliding bearings is essential for engineers and designers who want to optimise their mechanical systems and ensure their longevity and reliability.

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