Posted at 21-Jul-2020

Thinking outside the box with a bespoke bearing solution

Paul Skade
By David Carmichael
Senior Project Engineer

I am a time served fitter and turner (including machining) with a City & Guilds T5 (Full Tech) Certification as a Mechanical Production Engineer.


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Consistency during the manufacturing process is important to ensuring the overall quality of products is maintained to the highest standards. Failure to do so could impact not only the integrity of the product and its intended application, but that of the company in question.


A producer of high-accuracy technical ceramics was experiencing issues with its lapping machines, and who better to call for a ‘bespoke’ solution than ERIKS’ bearings specialists.

The lapping machine features two large round flat tables that rotate in opposite directions, with the ceramic parts placed in between. This process is to ensure that each item from the batch of ceramic parts remain of equal thicknesses. A diamond slurry is then introduced as the medium to slowly grind the surfaces of the manufactured parts.

And it’s the introduction of the diamond slurry that was causing the bulk of the problems. The process couldn’t change, therefore a new bearing solution needed to be designed and implemented as soon as possible.


Due to the aggressive nature of the diamond slurry, and the position of the assembly, the bearings were being destroyed with a single shift. This was causing the manufacturer expensive and increased downtime.

Que ERIKS unrivalled know-how and expertise.

Not an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution

The bearing assembly was completely redesigned so that it was totally sealed against damage from the diamond slurry. The design is such that, should the bearings fail due to normal service fatigue, the customer will only need to change the sealed bearings and the seals, which act to keep the diamond slurry at bay.

Consequential damage to the shaft, where the seals run, is mitigated by the introduction of SKF Speedi Sleeves, a new generation of thin-walled sleeves that are simply pushed into position over the worn area, providing a counterface surface.

Manufactured using a proprietary stainless-steel material that minimises wear on both the sealing lip and sleeve, no special equipment is required as the installation tool is supplied with the sleeve itself. All you need is a mallet and a pair of pliers and installation is underway. In comparison to the alternative, which is to manufacture a new shaft, downtime has been significantly reduced, easing the concerns of maintenance engineers.


Since the installation of the new bearing assembly in September 2019, the customer hasn’t reported any further issues, and has seen significant savings due to extended machine lifecycles and reduced downtime.

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