Minebea Mitsumi, formerly known as Nippon Miniature Bearing Co., Ltd. (NMB), has established itself as a pioneer and world-leading manufacturer of miniature ball bearings since 1951. The focus on the core business of miniature ball bearings with an outer diameter of less than 22mm continues to this day. A full 60% of the global market share and therefore millions of them Bearing are delivered monthly worldwide.

Minebea ball bearings

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Rolling bearings from Minebea Mitsumi

Minebea Mitsumi offers an impressive range of more than 8500 different bearing types, which were specially developed for demanding applications. The miniature bearings of the NMB, NHB, Cerobear and Myonic brands are widely used in various industrial sectors such as automobile, Medical Technology, healthcare, IT, home & entertainment and general industry. The reliable ones Rolling make them a preferred choice for critical applications where high precision and long service life are required.

Miniature ball bearings and the smallest ball bearing in the world

Minebea miniature ball bearings10.06.2024/XNUMX/XNUMX | the Miniature ball bearings from Minebea Mitsumi are available in a variety of materials and finishes including stainless steel, chrome steel or ceramic, flanged, open or shielded. This flexibility makes it possible to select ball bearings exactly according to the requirements of the respective application.

These are particularly noteworthy Special bearings for high-precision applications such as dental bearings, X-ray tube bearings and turbocharger bearings that offer highest speeds, minimal frictional torque and maximum rigidity. These bearings are also characterized by their low noise generation and an outstanding service life.

Precise like clockwork

A notable highlight is the smallest ball bearing in the world with an outside diameter of just 1,5 mm. It holds the world record and is listed in the Watch mechanics used. These exceptionally small bearings are an example of the manufacturer's expertise in the development and production of precision components for extremely small components.

In the ultra-modern Research and development centers The chemical analyses, cleanliness tests and extensive product tests required to develop these tiny products are carried out in Japan, Thailand and Singapore. These centers are equipped with advanced measurement technology, including acoustic testing, optical analysis and spectroscopic material testing, to ensure bearing quality and performance. 

Axial and radial bearings with lubrication condition monitoring

Minebea high-speed bearingsOctober 30.10.2019, XNUMX | The Minebea Mitsumi Company myonic has on the EMO the next generation axial and radial bearing presented for the machine tool. The AXRY-NGX series has been consistently developed for maximum rigidity. More rigidity for high loads in the given installation space is not possible. Proven features from the EX series such as the grease reservoirs for lifetime lubrication have been adopted.

The new ball bearing series in the axial bearing and radial bearing category is particularly suitable for combined Milling/turning applications in innovative machine applications. Through the optional use of the integrated lubrication condition monitoring CMS, the required lubrication quantities for the ball bearings can be precisely determined and the bearing temperatures can therefore be optimally adjusted.

Thanks to the innovative integrated Monitoring the lubrication condition With CMS, friction torques and temperatures in the bearing can be precisely adjusted, which further improves machine accuracy. Sensors located directly under the raceways continuously monitor the lubrication status in the axial or radial bearings and ensure precise relubrication in real time. In addition, further information about the bearing temperature, bearing speed and bearing slip of the product is available at any time.

Hybrid rolling bearings in the satellite on a 7-year Merkur mission

Minebea hybrid bearing

March 21.03.2019, 20 | The four-part spacecraft launched on October 2018, 03 at 45:XNUMX CEST Bepi Colombo their journey to Mercury in the Ariane 5 carrier rocket. Also on board: rolling bearings from Minebea Mitsumi subsidiary Cerobear. The launch of the space mission took place in Kourou (French Guiana).

The mission is a cooperation between the Japanese Space agency JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and the ESA (European Space Agency). The space probe, named after the Italian mathematician Giuseppe Colombo, is expected to be on the move for seven years.

The Merkur With a diameter of 4.878 km, it is the smallest and also the least explored planet in our solar system. This is due to the inhospitable conditions for space probes near Mercury and therefore near the Sun. The solar radiation in Mercury's orbit is about ten times higher than on Earth. And the long Mercury days and nights also play a role:

Day and night on Mercury

Minebea MercuryThe Alternation between day and night lasts 176 days on Mercury, which is why the temperature on the sunny side is extremely high at around 430 °C and extremely low on the shadow side at minus 180 °C. Due to the strong thermal loads, all devices and components must meet special heat balance requirements.

With the Bepi Colombo is after Mariner 10 and the Messenger Orbiter are only the third space probe on the Mercury expedition. The scientists involved hope to provide a comprehensive description of the planetary properties and history of Mercury. One of the two satellites that will separate from the probe at the target will examine the surface, the second the magnetic field.

According to calculations, Bepi Colombo should be in December 2025 to reach the goal. Nine so-called “swing-by maneuvers” have to be carried out along the way. The space probe will pass Earth once in April 2020, then Venus twice and Mercury itself six times. These maneuvers are used to slow down so that the 4,1 t probe does not crash into the interior of the solar system.

Rolling bearings in the satellite

In the current Mercury mission, the rolling bearings are used, among other things, in the Solar Array Drive Mechanism of the MPO (Mercury Planetary Orbiter), i.e. in the satellite that is supposed to explore the surface. Due to the long journey and the extreme conditions special requirements placed on the rolling bearings: After seven years of standstill, the bearings must function perfectly and withstand the high temperature fluctuations in the orbit of Mercury.

Therefore are for this mission Hybrid bearings used in which the rings are made of steel and the balls are made of silicon nitride. This is the only way to ensure that cold welding between rings and balls does not occur during the start and the long journey, even without lubricant.


TU Dortmund cryogenic coolingCryogenic cooling reduces wear and tear and tool life


Cerobear's history in aerospace began in early 2000 with the first flight of ceramic cylindrical rollers in the storage of the space shuttle's liquid hydrogen pumps. The ceramic rollers worked at 36.200 rpm at temperatures of minus 1 °C and were only filled with liquid Hydrogen lubricated. The use of Cerobear rolling elements improved the engines' service interval by a factor of 12, while at the same time increasing the payload by 9%. The maintenance times between missions have been reduced from 1000 hours to less than 50 hours.

In space applications the bearings must custom and be tailored to a long service life with maximum accuracy and low friction. Space-grade materials and coatings are available for low-speed bearings typically used in space mechanisms. New rolling bearing steels and ceramics are used to meet the extreme requirements.

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Author information
Roman Small

Roman Klein is Head of communications at MinebeaMitsumi Technology Center Europe GmbH in Viliingen-Schwenningen.