A thrust bearing is a particular type of rotary bearing. Like other bearings, they permit rotation between parts, but they are designed to support a predominantly axial load.
Thrust Ball Bearings are designed to handle axial/thrust loads only. They should not be used for any radial load applications. A bearing ring mounted on the shaft is called a shaft washer, and the one mounted on housing is called a housing washer.
Thrust Ball Bearings are of two types:
- Single Direction type
Suitable for handling only uni-directional axial loads.
- Double Direction type
Suitable for handling bi-directional axial loads.
Thrust Ball Bearings are not suitable for high-speed applications. At high speeds, sliding movement between balls and raceways can occur, which may result in smearing. Further at high speeds, centrifugal forces expel lubricating oil. This fact alone restricts acceptability of Thrust Ball Bearings for high-speed applications.