Bearings are incredibly important in our world. While most might not realize it, anyone in the industrial world knows better. Industrial machine tools used to cut, bend, shape, form, and fabricate many of the metal parts, components, and products we use frequently rely on effective bearings. As the years have passed, those machines have gotten more and more precise and powerful, leading to the spindle bearings inside the machines becoming more and more advanced as well.
However, gone are the days where a little bit of imperfection was acceptable. Today, precision and accuracy are key, and without effective spindle bearings, manufacturers can’t deliver it. If you ask any spindle provider or manufacturer what questions they might frequently hear from customers, it is likely that one of their responses will be something along the lines of: “Do my spindle bearings need to be replaced?” or “How will I know when I need new spindle bearings?”
Unfortunately in most cases, by the time a spindle bearing becomes the “squeaky wheel, begging for grease” chances are it already needs to be replaced. In the industrial sector, so many businesses rely on spindle bearings. Considering the fact that many manufacturers and fabricators operate around the clock to stay competitive and meet the demands of customers, it becomes apparent that spindle bearings are constantly being used and abused – almost without thought. That’s why it often comes as a surprise when productivity suddenly stops, and it all comes down to the spindle bearing. With this in mind, it’s incredibly important to not only keep spindle bearings properly lubricated and maintained, but to also be ready with replacement spindle bearings to eliminate costly downtime.
Whether they are for a mill, lathe, cutting tool, or anything in between, spindle bearings are absolutely necessary for the high level of power and precision that machine tools require. But how do you know when they need to be replaced? The most obvious sign is that the machine stops working. However, there are a number of other factors that come into play.
When you operate the machine tool in question, is precision or accuracy suffering? Noticeable changes in precision and positional accuracy can be indicative of an underlying problem with your bearing, the rolling element, the housing, or a number of bearing components. However, many times you will hear a failing spindle bearing before you notice the results. Are you hearing a low pitched grinding noise that becomes louder with faster rotation? As is the case with any machine, if it doesn’t sound right – chances are there’s a problem. The same is true for spindle bearings.
Beyond noticeably lower precision and audible signs of poor bearing performance, you might be able to assess the bearing visually. Are the bearings balls or rollers scored and rough? Is the bearing assembly damaged and worn? Whether your bearings have received a high degree of wear and tear from regular use or lack of lubrication, if you spot any of these signs, it’s possible that your bearings need to be replaced (or will need to be replaced very soon).
If your spindle bearings don’t need replacing, don’t forget to keep them lubricated and maintained to extend their life and increase your productivity.