SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1988

Selection of Rolling-Element Bearing Steels for Long-Life Applications


Nearly four decades of research in bearing steel metallurgy and processing has resulted in improvements in bearing life by a factor of 100 over that obtained in the early 1940s. For critical applications such as aircraft, these improvements have resulted in longer-lived, more reliable commercial aircraft engines. Material factors such as hardness, retained austenite, grain size and carbide size, number, and area can influence rolling-element fatigue life. Bearing steel processing such as double-vacuum melting can have a greater effect on bearing life than material chemistry. The selection and specification of a bearing steel is dependent on the integration of all these considerations into the bearing design and application. The paper reviews rolling-element fatigue data and analysis, which can enable the engineer or metallurgist to select a rolling-element bearing steel for critical applications where long life is required.

Author Information

Zaretsky, EV
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH
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Developed by Committee: A01
Pages: 5–43
DOI: 10.1520/STP26225S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5056-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-0999-5