While full and hybrid ceramic bearings and plastic bearings are non-conductive, steel ball bearings can conduct electricity. In settings where a build-up of static electricity occurs, a current passes between the inner and outer rings through the steel balls.
Electrical damage can occur when this happens, as standard lubricants can allow voltage to accumulate within the bearing, resulting in arcing. The heat generated by this can cause welding, pitting and bearing lubricant, often leading to excess noise or even early failure.
The good news is that this damage is preventable – by diverting the current, using bearings in non-conductive materials, or using a conductive grease to ensure the current passes through safely, electrical damage to bearings can be prevented.
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