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Ceramic Skate Wheel Bearings

Articles and information about skate wheel bearings made of ceramic materials.

The ceramic bearings used in skate wheels are typically hybrid ceramic bearings, meaning the inner and outer rings are made of steel or chrome, but the rolling balls are made of a ceramic material. The ceramic material typically used in skate bearings is Silicon Nitride (Si3N4). Bearings made of 100% ceramic are also available, but they are typically used in electric motor applications because of their nonconductive properties.

Definition of "Ceramic"
Any of various hard, brittle, heat-resistant and corrosion-resistant materials made by shaping and then firing a nonmetallic mineral, such as clay, at a high temperature.

Manufacturer Claims
Here are some of the claims made by the manufacturers of ceramic bearings, but note that some of these claims were made for hybrid ceramic roll ball bearings (the same type used in skates) that are used in manufacturing equipment, so I don't know if the same claims would be made when those bearings are used in skates.
  • 60% lighter than steel balls
  • Centrifugal forces are reduced
  • Lower vibration levels
  • Less heat builds up
  • Reduced ball skidding
  • Fatigue life increased
  • 50% higher modulus of elasticity
  • Improved spindle rigidity
  • Naturally fatigue resistant
  • Tribochemically inert
  • Low adhesive wear
  • Improved lubricant life
  • Superior corrosion resistance
  • Bearing service life is two to five times longer
  • Running speeds are 50% higher
  • Overall accuracy and quality improves. Better workpiece finish characteristics
  • Lower operating costs
  • Boost productivity
  • High temperature capability
  • Cutting tool life is increased Ceramic bearings, hybrid, are constructed of steel inner and outer rings with ceramic (typically Si3N4) balls in place of steel. These bearings have several advantages over all steel bearings, such as higher speed and acceleration capability, increased stiffness, higher accuracy, lower friction and heat generation, reduced lubrication requirements, low thermal expansion, and extended operation life. From Boca Bearings:
    "Boca's new and growing line of Ceramic Bearings are designed to run faster, cooler and longer than even our very best conventionally manufactured bearings. No matter how demanding your particular application is, the switch to Ceramic Bearings will result in a measurable increase in performance due to their lighter weight, their ability to withstand higher operating temperatures and endure greater loads. But the benefits don't stop there. Boca's Ceramic Bearings also require less lubrication, are virtually corrosion resistant and almost impervious to wear."

    From PrecisinBearings.net:
    "440c stainless or 52100 Chrome Steel bearings with ceramic balls offer several advantages over "regular bearings". Any bearing can be made better by replacing the balls with ceramic balls. The advantages are:
  • Ceramic balls are harder - greater wear resistance
  • Superior corrosion resistance
  • Superior surface finish - Superior surface quality
  • Superior ball geometry
  • Lighter weight - better high speed endurance
  • Ideal for low lube or self lubricating applications
  • Non magnetic - Non conductive
  • Can operate in extreme temperatures
  • Superior system rigidity - better overall accuracy
  • ABEC class 3,5 or 7 precision".

    Falcon has developed and manufactured some of the lightest and most aerodynamic high performance cycle products in the world. Now we are introducing an ultra high performance Falcon Ceramic Hybrid Bearing. The Falcon Ceramic Hybrid Bearings have been designed exclusively for cycling and with the highest quality components available. The Falcon Ceramic Hybrid Bearing provides for the ultimate competitive speed edge!!

    Jeannie Longo was the first to use the Falcon Ceramic Hybrid Bearings during 2001 Road World Championships in Lisbon, Portugal when she captured her 13th World title, and her fourth World title in the time trial by winning the Elite Women's Time Trial.

    Features and Benefits of Falcon Ceramic (Silicon Nitride, Si3N4) Hybrid Bearings over steel bearings

    HIGH SPEED/LIGHTER - Ceramic balls weight 40% less than steels balls. This reduces centrifugal loading and skidding, so hybrid ceramic bearings can operate 20% to 40% faster than conventional bearings. This means that the ball exerts less force outward against the outer race grove as the bearing spins. This reduction in outward force reduces the friction and rolling resistance. The lighter ball allows the bearing to rev up faster, and uses less energy to maintain it speed.

    LESS FRICTION, LESS HEAT - Falcon Ceramic Hybrid Ball Bearings truly are ďanti-friction". The ceramic ball will not heat up like a steel ball. Lower friction leads to less wear, less lubrication, less energy consumption, reduced sound level and extends bearing life.

    SMOOTHER - The ceramic ball has smoother surface properties than the steel ball. This means less friction between the ball and bearing races and less vibration giving you a faster spinning bearing and smoother ride.

    HARDER - Silicon nitride balls have a very high ball hardness that helps "Push" contaminates from the pathway.

    CORROSION RESISTANCE - The ceramic balls are impervious to oxidation, chemicals, and require essentially no lubricant. The bearings are lubricated with our proprietary grease. EXTENDED BEARING LIFE - With their numerous advantages ceramic hybrid ball bearings typically yield 8 to 10 times longer life than conventional steel-steel ball bearings.

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