Engineering Reference

Miniature & Instrument Ball Bearings

Ceramic (Silicon Nitride) Ball Material

Ceramic (silicon nitride) balls feature highly controlled and consistent geometry as well as an exceptionally smooth and uniform surface finish. Compared to steel, the material's lighter weight, higher stiffness, and inert properties facilitate higher operating speeds, extended bearing life, and expanded design possibilities for unique and demanding bearing applications.

Typical Applications

  • Semiconductor processing (high vacuum)

  • Medical and dental handpieces

  • Turbo molecular pumps

  • Flow meters

  • Scanners

  • Micro turbines (power generation)

  • Aircraft instrumentation

  • Machine tool spindles

Image alt

Hybrid ceramic ball bearings with silicon nitride balls.

 Table of Performance Benefits

PropertiesImprovement In Bearing Performance
Lower internal frictionLower internal temperature
Reduced cage and raceway wear
Lighter weight: 58% lighter than steelLighter overall bearing weight
Decreased centrifugal force
Decreased gyroscopic movement
Higher stiffness & higher hardness: 68% stiffer than steel Reduced skidding
Less friction
Lower operating temperatures
Less wear
Smoother surface: 75% smoother than steelDecreased lube degradation
No cold welding/adhesive wear
Less friction
Lower operating temperature
Less wear
Corrosion resistanceDurability in harsh environments
Less wear
Resists galling
Higher maximum temperature than steel:  +1000°CWider operating range
Lower thermal expansionLower operating temperature