Frequent Causes of Bearing Damage

A bearing is generally usable up to the end of the rolling fatigue life, but it can also fail earlier due to improper fitting, mounting, lubrication or handling. The main failure modes and their sub-causes are described in the ISO 15243 standard, and are based on the damages visible on the rolling element contact surfaces or on other functional surfaces of the bearings.

These failure modes include:

  1. Fatigue, which can be surface-initiated or sub-surface initiated
  2. Wear, which includes abrasive wear and adhesive wear
  3. Corrosion, which includes moisture corrosion and friction corrosion (with sub-causes fretting corrosion and false brinelling)
  4. Electrical erosion, which includes excessive voltage and current leakage
  5. Plastic deformation, which includes overload, indentation from debris and indentation from handling
  6. Fracture and cracking, which includes forced fracture, fatigue fracture and thermal cracking

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