Bearings are designed so that there is no metal-to-metal contact under normal operating conditions, which would include proper lubrication. Because of this, they should have little to no wear by design. The key qualifier here is “proper lubrication.”
There really aren’t lubricants formulated specifically for bearings because most bearings are used in machines that share the lubricant with other components. But even where bearings are isolated from the rest of the machine (electric motors), the lubricant is not bearing-specific; it would be the same lubricant (commonly called industrial oil or circulating oil).
In instances where the lubricant is bearing-specific, journal bearings are usually lubricated with oil while the majority of rolling element bearings are lubricated with grease (assuming they do not share the lubricant with other parts).
As with most lubricants, for bearing-specific lubricants, viscosity is key, and is driven by the speed and load on the bearing. Corrosion resistance is important for the periods when the machine is not running. For higher temperature applications, a synthetic base oil may be warranted. No matter the lubricant type, lubricant cleanliness is one of the key factors in long bearing life.
Effects caused by using the incorrect lubricant include over-heating, which generally leads to wear or even varnish; and corrosion, which is a different type of metal loss.
Eurofins TestOil recommends the following tests for bearing lubricants:
As far as advanced tests, Analytical Ferrography can help pinpoint the type and severity of wear if wear particles are observed. Membrane Patch Colorimetry could be warranted if bearing temperatures are observed to increase.
While, there are a lot more variables than simply choosing a good bearing lubricant, the application of the right amount of lubricant, maintained in a clean state will lead to the longest potential bearing life.
With more than 30 years of experience in the oil analysis industry, Eurofins TestOil, focuses exclusively on assisting industrial facilities with reducing maintenance costs and avoiding unexpected downtime through oil analysis program implementation. As industry experts in diagnosing oil-related issues in equipment such as turbines, hydraulics, gearboxes, pumps, compressors and diesel generators, Eurofins TestOil provides customers with a guarantee of same-day turnaround on all routine testing. Eurofins TestOil PRO certified lubrication professionals educate the industry on oil analysis through public and private onsite training. These highly experienced professionals provide a variety of onsite services; from collecting oil samples to conducting failure analyses to writing work orders. For more information on partnering with Eurofins TestOil on oil analysis programs or training opportunities visit https://testoil.com. Contact: Michael Barrett 216-251-2510; email@example.com.