Oil or Grease? Which Lubricant is Right for Your Application?
Applying a lubricant between the rolling and sliding parts of a bearing will help to improve speed and reduce service life.
Other benefits of lubrication include:
- Reduction of noise and vibration
- Heat dissipation
- Corrosion protection
- Maintenance-free operation over a long period of time
But which type of lubricant should you choose? Oil or Grease? See the tables below to find the best lubricant for your application.
Choose The Best Lubricant for Your Application
|Use When:||a) Max speed of the bearing is less than |
the speed factor of the grease (n *dm).
b) The environment almost uniformly dissipates the heat generated by the application.
c) Maintenance-free operation over a long period of time is desired.
|a) High operational speeds won’t support the use of grease.|
b) The lubricant is required to simultaneously cool the bearing(s).
Bearing Lubrication Selection Chart
Quick comparison of the performance of grease vs oil lubrication.
|General Speed suitability in n * dm||+++ |
approx. 2 MM
approx. 3 to 4 MM
|Design / system costs||+++++ (low)||+ (higher)|
|Operating costs||+++++ (low)||+ (higher)|
|Running in procedure||++||+++|
|Pollution||+++++ (low)||+ (higher)|
+++++: very good
Reference Speed Factor: Grease Lubrication
Selecting a suitable grease for high precision bearings is based on the max operating speed and temperature.
The reference speed factor n * dm calculates the operating rotational speed from the center line of the bearing ball diameter and indicates the max speed capacity of the lubricant being specified.
Below is a standard Reference Speed Factor Industry Guide. This Reference Speed Factor Guide helps compare the entire application for grease versus a general shaft or housing RPM.
|Reference Speed Factor Guide: n * dm|
|a) n * dm bearing = n * [(D+d) / 2]|
b) n = bearing operating speed [1/min]
c) d = bearing bore diameter [mm]
d) D = bearing outer diameter [mm]
Please note: Many bearing companies provide an exact dm in the catalog
Using this reference speed factor will help you select a lubricant that will not prematurely degrade the bearings performance.
In comparison to grease-lubricated bearings, oil lubrication enables long-term reliable operation at maximum speeds.
There are three main oil lubrication methods:
- Oil-Mist lubrication
- Oil-Air / Air-Oil lubrication (minimized lubrication consumption)
- Oil-Jet injection lubrication (greater cooling effects)
|a) Oil-mist is produced in an atomizer & conveyed to the bearing(s) by an air current|
b) Air currents also cool the bearings
c) Slightly higher pressure prevents contamination from penetrating the surface of the bearing.
|a) Oil is conveyed to the bearing(s) in droplets by compressed air|
b) Droplet size & intervals between droplets are controlled
|a) Considerable amounts of oil are carried through the bearing by injection|
b) Frictional heat generated in the bearing(s) disappears
c) The cooling of the oil is achieved with an oil-to-air heat exchange or other methods