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High precision bearings are important in machinery that requires reliability, fast rotational speed and precision.

But precision radial ‘deep-groove’ ball bearings & angular contact bearings are not interchangeable.

Let’s dive in and start to demystify these two different types of precision bearings. By the end of this article, you will know:

  • How these precision bearings are different
  • The machine requirements you need to know when selecting a precision bearing
  • The advantages each type of precision bearing can offer to your application.

Radial “Deep Groove” Ball Bearings

A radial ball bearing is a type of precision bearing where the action of the load transmitted is radial to the axis of the shaft. They are the most popular and widely used in industrial machinery applications because of their versatility.

Radial ball bearings produce very little friction as they carry loads from rotating parts to the shaft and/or housing. They also have a small contact angle of ~ 8° that helps reduce the stress caused by the weight of the load they are supporting.

A distinct advantage of radial bearings is they can accept axial loads in both directions and don’t need to be purchased in sets, unlike angular contact bearings.

Angular Contact Ball Bearings

Sometimes referred to as “spindle bearings,” angular contact bearings are used in machinery that requires high accuracy and durability.

Angular contact bearings have a much higher speed rating than radial bearings because of the nonstop contact of the balls to both rings.

Angular contact bearings can carry both radial and axial loads. The weight of the load is transferred from one ring to the other, through the balls, along a specific contact angle.

The contact angle is measured by two intersecting lines, one that’s formed at the point of contact between the ball and the ring and the other that’s formed from the axis of rotation to the bearing.

15° and 25° contact angles are the most common but other angles can be customized as needed.

Ball Bearing Comparison Chart

See below for the precision bearing differences “at-a-glance.”

Give us an opportunity to quote your precision bearing needs or let our technical support experts “geek out” over your bearing questions.

Ball Bearing Type Deep Groove Angular Contact
Advantages * Can accept axial load in both directions
* Lower contact angle (~8°)
* Supports high operating speeds
* Low maintenance & operation costs
Use When * Machine space isn’t available for matched bearing sets
* High operational speed is not required
* High operational speed is required
* Guidance for rotational parts is required
* High rigidity & precision is required
Applications * Medical industry
* Vacuum technology
* Dry lubrication low outgassing
* Electric Motors
* Conveyers
* Woodworking spindles
* Machine tool spindles
* Vacuum pumps
* Semiconductor industry
* Centrifuges

Inventory & Customization

We stock a large inventory of German-manufactured GMN high-precision bearings for machine applications that requires precision.

We also offer customization options for our high-precision ball bearings. Here are a few of the options we offer:

  1. Radial ‘Deep-Groove’ Bearings:
    • Cage material
    • Ball Material
    • Internal clearance
    • Shield(s)
    • Lubrication
    • Internal clearance & installation
    • tolerance strategies
  2. Angular Contact Bearings:
    • Cage material
    • Ball material
    • Contact angle
    • Preload
    • Seal(s)
    • Lubrication
    • Specific installation tolerance strategies


Angular Contact Bearings vs. Radial Bearings: What's the Difference?

Watch this crash course in the difference between Angular Contact and Radial, or "Deep Groove", bearings and find out which is best for your application. 

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