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Hartford Technologies Blog

Understanding Industrial Bearing Failure and the Causes of Bearing Corrosion

Posted: Jun 5, 2017 10:53:49 AM

Corrosion is the bane of industrial machinery and can be caused by a number of factors. Thankfully, there are steps that can be taken to prevent corrosion, and many modern ball bearings are incredibly corrosion resistant. Outlined below are some of the leading factors contributing to bearing corrosion in industrial applications and how you can go about combating them.

Bearing Failure Caused by Moisture

Rust is an unfortunate reality, and if your ball bearings are metal then rust is a problem you may end up encountering. Keeping your bearings lubricated with a good grease can decrease the chance of them rusting, but at the end of the day, the rust-resistance of your bearings ultimately comes down to two factors: environment and material of the bearings themselves.

It's understandable how machinery that is operating in a wet environment is more prone to rusted bearings, but what you may not realize is that machinery that operates at extreme temperature differences is subject to rust as well. Like a glass of ice water taken out on a warm summer day, fluctuations in temperature can cause condensation to gather on your bearings.

Aside from limiting the amount of moisture in your operating conditions as best as you can, the best way to prevent rust-corroded bearings is to choose a rust resistant bearing. Non-metal bearings such as glass bearings and plastic bearings are a good option if the operating conditions allow for their use. There are also metal bearings, though, such as AISI 304/302 stainless steel balls that are quite resistant to rust as well.

Bearing Failure from Exposure to Harsh Chemicals

Next to rust, the most common cause of corrosion in industrial bearings is exposure to harsh chemicals. If you are in an industry that works with acids, solvents, and other such corrosive chemicals, great care must be taken to choose ball bearings that are highly resistant to chemical corrosion.

Which ball bearing will perform best depends entirely on the chemicals you are working with and the characteristics you need your bearings to have. Nylon balls perform excellently when exposed to diluted mineral acids, organic acids, and alkalis, making them a great choice for applications that require a bearing that is both lightweight, abrasion resistant, and corrosion resistant. Meanwhile, bearings such as tungsten carbide ball bearings and certain stainless steel bearings also exhibit great corrosion resistance when exposed to harsh chemicals.

Poor or Broken Down Grease Affecting Bearing Life

There are a lot of reasons why you don't want to use poor or broken down grease, one of them being that it can actually corrode your bearings. While some bearings will stand up to corrosion from low-quality grease better than others, the best thing you can do to keep your grease from corroding your bearings is to use a high-quality grease and replace it regularly.

Of course, you also have the option to use bearings that don't require any lubrication at all; certain bearings such as nylon (polyamide) balls don't require any grease to operate perfectly fine.


Bearings work because of their perfectly smooth, polished surfaces, but nothing can ruin those surfaces as fast as corrosion. Thankfully, there are preventive measures that can be taken to keep corrosion from destroying your bearings, the most important measure being carefully choosing the right bearing for your intended application. If you would like to learn more about the corrosion resistant bearings we offer at Hartford Technologies and discuss which options would be best for use in your industrial machinery, we invite you to contact us today.


Topics: Custom Bearings