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Selecting Bronze Bearings Materials: What You Need to Know


Bronze bearings are everywhere in machine design because they are, quite frankly, essential to keeping these machines from falling apart. Without them, the range of movement for certain mechanics would be way outside of the desired motion, increasing friction between various moving parts and wreaking all sorts of havoc on the machine itself. These bearings are absolutely necessary, and some type of bronze very often is the material of choice for manufacturing them.

Choosing a Bronze Bearing Material

It is not as easy as choosing bronze as a bearing material, however. Bronze bearings come in a number of different alloys to be used for different purposes. The following is a quick rundown of which alloys are best in certain circumstances:

Tin Bronzes

Adding tin to a bearing bronze alloy essentially serves the purpose of strengthening the metal. Tin bronzes are, as a result, very strong, but they also are hard and boast a high ductility, all of which makes them good for carrying heavier loads and holding up well over time, even in machines that really pound. They also perform especially well in seawater and brine.

Leaded Tin Bronzes

There are some tin bronzes that actually add a little bit of lead, which sounds as though it would add strength but in reality improves machinability, meaning it is easier to be cut and removed if needed at relatively low cost to the owner of the machine. Some leaded bronzes also contain some zinc, which is a way of strengthening the bearings more affordably than tin alone.

High-Leaded Tin Bronzes

There is significant demand for high-leaded tin bronzes because they are so versatile in a number of general applications at medium speeds and carrying medium loads. The strength and hardness of bronzes in this category are sacrificed a bit in favor of better anti-friction and machining properties, but all in all they are excellent bearings that work well in a number of circumstances.

Aluminum Bronzes

As the strongest of the bearing bronze alloys, aluminum bronzes are the only ones capable of being heat treated. That extra strength also allows them to deal with loads up to 50 percent higher than leaded tin alloys, meaning for heavier-duty jobs the aluminum bronze alloys are a smart, reasonable choice. They do come at the sacrifice of ductility and conformity, but for strength there’s no better option.

Manganese Bronzes

Perhaps the most complicated alloys in terms of makeup, the manganese bronze bearings feature zinc and small amounts of manganese, iron, aluminum and lead, all of which combine to create a bearing bronze that is strong, can operate at high speeds, can support heavy loads and can resist corrosion. They don’t deal with abrasion well, though, so the accompanying shafts need to be hard and relatively stationary.

Here at Diversified Bronze, we work with many of these different types of bronze bearings, and we are happy to answer any questions about which of these may be best for a certain type of machine. Simply reach out to us any time to ensure that your products maintain their integrity over time because of the highly quality of bearing bronze used in the manufacturing process.