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What are Ceramic Ball Bearings?

M.R. Anglin
M.R. Anglin

Ceramic ball bearings are ball bearings that are made of ceramic rather than steel. A ball bearing is a piece of equipment that uses balls to reduce friction in a spinning system. The balls and rolling elements in a ball bearing are traditionally made of steel. However, ceramic ball bearings have emerged and are being used in a variety of applications. Some examples of products that use ceramic ball bearings are inline skates, skateboards, hard drives and motorcycles. They are also used in industrial equipment, racing cars, and go-carts.

Ball bearings are made up of three major components: an outer race, an inner race, and the balls. The inner race is a circular piece of material that is fixed in place. The balls rest on the inner race and are enclosed by the outer race. In the case of a skateboard wheel, the bearings are inserted into the wheel. Ceramic ball bearings are preferred by some skaters because it produces a smoother and faster ride with less effort being put in by the skater.

Ceramic ball bearings are often used for skateboards.
Ceramic ball bearings are often used for skateboards.

There are three different types of ceramic ball bearings: full ceramic bearings, hybrid ceramic bearings, and partial ceramic bearings. Full ceramic ball bearings use ceramic, commonly silicon nitrate, to make the balls and all the rolling elements. Hybrid ceramic bearings use ceramic balls but steel rolling elements. Partial ceramic bearings use ceramic to make the balls and inner race, but stainless steel to make the outer race. It should be noted that the balls in each of these applications are always ceramic.

Many people are using ceramic ball bearings in their applications because ceramic is lighter than steel. Its lighter weight allows it to spin faster with less energy being put in. Thus, it takes less energy to achieve and maintain a certain speed. Faster speeds also cause less friction than steel bearings. The reduced friction equals less heat and a more efficient energy transfer.

Ceramic ball bearings are also favored by many because they are cheaper to create than steel bearings. In addition, they are heat resistant and have a lower rate of thermal expansion. They are also less dense than steel bearings, meaning that the centrifugal force given off by the elements is not as high. This means they tend to have a longer life span than steel bearings. However, it should be noted that ceramic bearings are not as strong as steel bearings.

Discussion Comments


My younger brother has a skateboard with ceramic ball bearings. He often skates on hot asphalt in the summertime, so the fact that they resist heat is important.

He had an older board with steel bearings, and he said that it was much harder to push. He expended way more energy on it than on the new one.

He can really get up some serious speed going down ramps. I have seen him in motion at the skate park, and it’s like the ramp has been greased. I think it must be really dangerous, but it gives him such a thrill.


My old roller skates with two wheels on each side had steel bearings, and they were nowhere near as fast as inline skates. That may be why I was so shocked at how quickly I moved forward when I tried on inline skates.

Though they lasted for over a decade, my steel bearing skates simply could not roll as smoothly as those with ceramic bearings. Skating on inline skates feels like ice skating, because the ride is so smooth and seamless. It took awhile to get used to, because the motion was so fluid, whereas I had become accustomed to somewhat jerky motion.

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    • Ceramic ball bearings are often used for skateboards.
      By: Taboga
      Ceramic ball bearings are often used for skateboards.