Stainless steel bearings are designed not to rust, but that doesn’t make them immune to corrosion. High humidity, improper storage, and condensation all contribute to corrosion of stain steel bearings. In many cases, you won’t notice that stainless steel roller bearings have corroded until damage occurs. Here is how to protect stainless steel bearings from rust.
Sealing and Lubrication
Lack of or insufficient lubrication is the leading cause of bearing failure and corrosion. Lubricants of bearings used in washdown processes such as in the food and beverage industry are likely to get washed away by contaminants. However, grease is the most preferred lubricant for stainless steel bearings used in washdown applications. Other lubricants such as oil are easily washed away by a splash or spray.
Plating and Coating
There are a variety of coating and plating options that virtually protect stainless steel bearings against any corrosive agent. Stainless steel is probably the first thing that comes to mind when the term corrosion is mentioned. The fact that stainless steels can’t be hardened lowers their load carrying capabilities. But that can be addressed by applying a thick coat to stainless steel material.
Controlling the number of corrosive agents contacting a stainless steel surface is perhaps the easiest and cheapest option that designers can employ to protect stainless steel against destructive agents. That could mean mounting linear bearing components on their side or upside down. Mounting the bearing above the surface area can also minimize their contact with corrosive liquids, but this depends on the direction of the splash or spray.
Corrosion is a natural enemy of materials made of stainless steel. When acids, vapors, or moisture attack the surface of a stainless steel bearing, the damage caused may not be seen until it is too late. Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do at that stage to protect your stainless steel bearings against corrosive agents.