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All bearings are essentially rolling devices that enable an object to move by reducing friction between that object and the surface it is moving over. The principle is that all objects are able to roll far better and faster than they slide. The tyres on a vehicle illustrate this perfectly. If a car were to be fitted with skis rather than wheels it would only move with difficulty over a road in normal weather. But rolling tyres enable it to move in both a linear and in a rotational manner.
The structure of the bearing is simple: it is essentially a ball or a roller that is designed to carry a radial or thrust load, or a combination of the two. A pulley is an example of a radial load, a bar stool represents a thrust load while a car wheel hub is a combination of the two types. The tyres of a car moving in a straight line carry a radial load. If the car moves round a corner, the tyres carry a thrust load.
Simply Bearings supplies a wide range of bearings designed for particular applications. Ball bearings are the simplest and most common type of bearing. These can handle both thrust and radial loads but are limited as to the weight of the load itself. If overloaded, they can deform.
However, the load bearing capacity can be increased significantly by incorporating more balls into a cage assembly to create the four point contact ball bearing. Linear bearings are a type of multiple ball bearing assembly that provides a superior low friction movement in one direction.
Roller bearings resemble cylinders and are able to carry a larger weight because they have a greater surface area over which it can be distributed. But the down side here is that they can only carry radial loads.
Needle roller bearings are essentially a small diameter version of these and are used in applications where space is limited. There are also needle roller and cage assemblies that are self-contained, easy to mount and are capable of handling very high load weights.
Thrust bearings can be made of either balls for low weights or rollers for large weights and are designed almost exclusively to carry thrust loads. The seat of a bar stool is equipped with a ball thrust bearings for support. A roller thrust bearing is commonly used for gear support in vehicle transmissions.