Tel: 860-571-3602  |

Hartford Technologies Blog

New Custom Bearing Designs That Are Driving the Automotive Industry

Posted: Feb 8, 2019 3:02:17 PM

Reliability, economy, performance, comfort and lots of equipment: that's all we expect from our cars. No wonder the automotive industry asks a lot from the bearings they use! From needle bearings to cage bearings and thrust bearings, standard products give satisfactory performance in many situations. However, especially challenging applications can often benefit from custom bearing designs.

Automotive bearing applications

Rolling element bearings are used throughout the vehicle. They reduce rocker arm friction and ensure the smooth movement of CV joints and CVT's. Elsewhere, thrust bearings absorb axial loads and precision balls serve as gas tank check valves. In the cabin, needle and ball bearing assemblies support the steering column and, hidden beneath the seats, ball and roller retainer assemblies help provide hushed position adjustment.

Unique capabilities

Product design is deeply intertwined with manufacturing capability. Only by investing in processes unique to the bearing industry is it possible to offer special capabilities. For example, our tripot (CV) joint bearings incorporate exceptionally hard materials and are machined and polished to very tight tolerances. Likewise, an ability to manufacture precision balls in discrete step sizes lets customers simplify their retainer designs.

Meeting automotive industry expectations

Operating in a ruthlessly competitive environment, vehicle OEMs look for every opportunity to gain an advantage. While our standard products deliver class-leading performance our custom bearing designs can provide more of an edge.

  • Weight reduction. Mass strongly influences fuel economy and vehicle performance. Every ounce or gram matters, and less is always better. Custom bearing designs can take out weight while maximizing performance, which helps manufacturers hit their goals.

  • Perceived quality. Feel affects perceptions of quality, even if it is somewhat intangible. Car owners and passengers expect every mechanism to operate smoothly under a light but consistent pressure. Achieving this demands great consistency in manufacturing: every rolling element must be identical and assemblies completely uniform.

  • Volumetric efficiency. Whether a bearing is going under the seat or under the hood there's competition for every cubic inch and millimeter. Choosing custom bearing designs over catalog items lets us configure each element so the assembly fits within the available space in a way not possible with standard components.

  • Friction reduction. In the powertrain it's essential to minimize parasitic losses. All rolling element bearings offer low friction but a custom design let's us optimize for load and resistance in a way not possible with standard products.

  • Power draw. Every electric motor consumes engine-generated power. Anything that reduces friction reduces power draw and so saves energy. Again, choosing a custom bearing over a standard product lets us optimize the design and function to minimize friction.

  • Cost reduction. Custom bearing designs can incorporate features to simplify assembly and installation. Step sized balls for instance allow use of races that don't need precise or expensive manufacturing processes.

Beyond the product

Our ability to meet automotive industry expectations goes beyond engineering technically superior products. Our supply chain is optimized for both cost and lead time minimization and our operations are certified to industry standards. From needle bearings to cage bearings and thrust bearings, at Hartford we offer many different standard products. Despite our wide product range though, we believe especially challenging applications can benefit from custom bearing designs. Throughout Hartford Technologies our processes meet and exceed IATF 16949 standards while ISO 9001 and 14001 adherence are a way of life.