How Angular Contact Ball Bearings Work: The Definitive Guide

Nov 22 2022

The inner and outer raceways of angular contact bearings are slightly offset from each other, causing the balls to be mounted at an angle. Due to this offset, they are suitable for radial and axial loads. The main benefit of bearings arranged at an angle is that the axial load capacity increases as the angle of the bearing balls increases. This angular placement also increases the service life of the bearing.

Rotating applications utilize bearings to reduce friction and increase machine efficiency, even under heavy loads. Angular contact bearings provide higher operating speeds and better durability. They can be used where high precision, high speed, radial, and axial loads are present.

Angular Contact Ball Bearings

Styles of seals and materials

Bearing arrangements typically include shafts, bearings, housings, lubricants, associated components, and seals. Seals are critical to lubricant cleanliness and bearing life. The purpose of the seal is to retain the lubricant and prevent any contaminants from entering the controlled environment.

There are several basic seal types for angular contact bearings:

  • Non-contact sealing

Non-contacting radial shaft seals create a narrow gap between stationary and rotating components. The gaps can be arranged axially, radially, or in combination. Non-contact seals, from simple gap seals to multi-stage labyrinth seals, do not wear.

  • Contact seal

Seals that are in contact with sliding surfaces are called contact seals and are used to seal passages between machine parts that move linearly or circularly relative to each other. The most common contacting seal is the radial shaft seal, which is installed between a stationary part and a rotating part.

  • Static sealing

A seal between stationary surfaces is called a static seal. Their effectiveness depends on the radial or axial deformation of the cross-section during installation. A gasket is a typical example of a static seal.

A typical rolling bearing consists of an inner ring, an outer ring, balls or rollers as rolling elements, and a cage.

Yuanhe offers a variety of bearing types with seals or shields on one or both sides. Bearings that are capped on both sides are filled with grease at the factory. Offers an economical and space-saving solution compared to external sealing.

Angular contact bearings are available in exotic materials including stainless steel, plastic, and ceramic hybrids. They can also be plated; common plating materials are cadmium and chromium.

Angular contact ball bearing components and terminology

Angular contact bearings have an inner and outer raceway and a set of balls that roll between the raceways. The axis of the bearing forms an angle at the point of contact between the balls and the raceway. The inner and outer rings are asymmetrical, with one wall thicker than the other. Angular contact ball bearings can accommodate a combination of radial and axial loads and are capable of operating at much higher speeds than deep groove ball bearings.

The following technical terms are associated with angular contact ball bearings:

Inner Ring

The inner ring is the inside of the bearing. It is the part that fits directly on the shaft.

Outer Ring

The outer ring forms the outside of the bearing. Since it doesn’t usually move like the inner ring, its main job is to house and protect the internal components.

Radial Load

Radial load measures the maximum vertical force a bearing can withstand. This force results in rotational motion.

Axial Load

Axial load measures the maximum force applied in the same line as the shaft. It causes turning motion.


Balls rotate along raceways to reduce friction in motion in bearings.

Cages: Cages are dividers within the raceways that help keep the balls evenly distributed.

Full Complement

Full complement bearings have no cage, instead, the open space is completely occupied by the bearing balls.


The inner and outer raceways are the outer portion of the inner ring and the inner portion of the outer ring, usually consisting of grooved paths for the proper movement of the balls.

Bearing Preload

Preload is a non-applied axial load applied to a bearing to establish optimum load-carrying capacity, reduce slippage and improve running accuracy.

Nominal contact angle: The contact angle is the inclination of the intersection of the ball and the raceway along the radial plane. Angular contact ball bearings have a slight tilt of 15-25 degrees, depending on axial load requirements. The contact angle can be adjusted to accommodate any axial load.


Bearings are made of rollers and bearing rings. During operation, the rollers slide within the rings. This makes it a source of friction and a common point of failure. By applying bearing lubricant between these surfaces, the heat generated by friction is reduced, ensuring longer bearing life.

Sealed Bearings

Bearings can be fully open, partially enclosed, or fully enclosed. Fully open bearings provide less protection for parts but do allow for ease of lubrication and maintenance. Partially enclosed bearings have a retainer that protects the bearing balls from damage. Fully enclosed bearings are completely immune to parts, however, they are not easy to maintain and if they reach the end of the cycle they need to be replaced rather than repaired.

Sealed Bearings

How Angular Contact Bearings Work

Angular contact bearings are a type of rolling bearings that can withstand high radial loads and axial loads in both directions. These bearings are often used in applications requiring high precision, such as machine tool spindles and robotics.

So how do angular contact bearings work? Angular contact bearings have two rows of balls or rollers spaced at an angle. The inner row is slightly narrower than the outer row and contacts the inner and outer rings of the bearing.

When a load is applied to the bearing, the balls rotate and support the load. The angle of the ball helps to distribute the load evenly, preventing premature failure. This enables the bearing to withstand radial and axial loads. The contact angle of the bearing determines the axial load that the bearing can bear.

Angular contact bearings are available in a variety of sizes and designs and can be customized to meet your specific application needs. Angular contact bearings are rolling element bearings that use angular contact to support axial and radial loads. These bearings are typically used in high-speed applications such as electric motors and pumps. Angular contact bearings are able to accommodate higher loads than standard radial bearings, making them ideal for high-speed applications.

What are angular contact bearings used for?

Angular contact bearings are found in a variety of industrial applications and machine locations. They are commonly used in pump and turbine applications, as well as for main shaft and gearbox supports. Angular contact bearings in these applications offer performance superior to other bearing types.

Some advantages of angular contact bearings include their ability to handle high loads, low noise and vibration levels, and their ability to operate at high speeds. Additionally, angular contact bearings are often used in applications where space is limited, such as turbine housings.

Angular contact bearings are commonly used in many high-precision applications, such as aircraft and rocket engines, where reliability and long service life are critical. In these industries, bearings must be able to withstand extreme temperatures and high loads. Therefore, angular contact bearings are usually made of special materials, such as high-strength steel or titanium.

There are many different types of angular contact bearings, each designed for a specific industrial application. Some common examples include ball bearings, roller bearings, and thrust bearings.

How Angular Contact Ball Bearings Work

Angular contact bearing types and their advantages

Single Row Angular Contact Ball Bearings

Single-row angular contact ball bearings are designed with a certain contact angle, so they are suitable for bearing axial loads in one direction or combined loads.

The bearing will generate axial component force after bearing radial load, so angular contact ball bearings are generally used in pairs, or more than two pairs are used in double connection. Single-row angular contact ball bearings can be preloaded to increase rigidity, so they are suitable for machine tool spindles with high rotational accuracy, etc.

The advantages of single-row angular contact ball bearings include:

  • High loads can be accommodated due to the high number of balls in the bearing.
  • The excellent running ability for fast acceleration and deceleration of the bearing.
  • high carrying capacity
  • The lower shoulder packs a large number of balls into the bearing, giving it a relatively high load-carrying capacity.
  • good running characteristics
  • Rapid acceleration and deceleration are possible.
  • Easy installation of universally matched bearings
  • No need to adjust for correct internal play or preload.
  • Single-row angular contact bearings are generally used in industrial pumps, compressors, material handling, electric motors
Single Row Angular Contact Ball Bearings

Double Row Angular Contact Ball Bearings

Double row angular contact ball bearings are similar to two single row bearings arranged back to back. In addition to radial and axial loads, they are also able to absorb tilting moments.

The advantages of double-row contact bearings include:

  • While generally more expensive than single-row bearings, double-row bearings can be more economical in the long run.
  • Takes up less axial space, which is useful when two single-row bearings take up too much space
  • Can withstand radial and axial loads as well as tilting moments
  • Axial space is smaller
  • Can be used in applications where two single-row angular contact ball bearings arranged back to back take up too much axial space.
  • Can withstand radial and axial loads in either direction
  • Adapt to tilt moment
  • rigid bearing arrangement
Double Row Angular Contact Ball Bearings

Four-point contact ball bearings

Four-point contact ball bearings generally consist of an outer ring and two half inner rings or an inner ring and two half outer rings, which can bear axial loads from two directions. The contact angle is 35°, and the axial load capacity is large, which is suitable for bearing pure axial load or synthetic load with large axial load. Four-point contact ball bearings often use copper alloy car-made cages.

The advantages of four-point contact ball bearings include:

  • The split inner raceway of the four-point contact ball bearing facilitates mounting and dismounting of the bearing for maintenance.
  • The grooves in the inner raceway allow better oil flow.
  • These bearings work similarly to double-row or two single-row mounted angular contact bearings, but take up less space.
  • Axial and radial loads are allowed.
  • Compared with other ball bearings, the number of balls is relatively high, so the load-carrying capacity is high.
  • Withstands axial loads in both directions
  • Less Axial Space These bearings take up much less axial space than double-row bearings.
  • high carrying capacity
  • Containing a large number of balls gives the bearing a high load-carrying capacity.
  • separable design
  • The split inner ring makes the mounting and dismounting of the bearing easier. the
  • improve oil flow
  • Limited inner ring deformation when subjected to high clamping forces
Four point contact ball bearings

What is the difference between angular contact bearings and ball bearings?

Angular contact bearings and ball bearings are both types of bearings used in a variety of applications. Bearings are used to help reduce friction between two moving parts, and they come in many different types and sizes. Angular contact bearings are usually used for high-load applications, while ball bearings are usually used for low-load applications.

How to choose the right angular contact bearing for your application

When looking for angular contact bearings, the main considerations revolve around speed, load type, load magnitude, seal type, tolerances, and bearing size:


The speed at which an angular ball bearing can operate depends on various factors such as ball angle, type of lubrication, and bearing size. When selecting a bearing, compare your operating speed needs, the type of lubrication required, and the desired load capacity to determine the bearing’s speed capability. Keep in mind that grease runs at slower speeds than oil, and a smaller ball angle will also enable higher speeds at the expense of load-carrying capacity.


Important operating specifications to consider when looking for an angular contact bearing include rated speed, static radial load, and dynamic radial load.

The Grease-lubricated bearings have lower speed ratings than oil-lubricated bearings. the Static radial load is the maximum radial load that a bearing can withstand without excessive permanent deformation.

The dynamic radial load is the calculated constant radial load that a set of identical bearings with a stationary outer ring can theoretically sustain for a rating life of 1 million revolutions of the inner ring.

Lubrication and Sealing Type

Choose between lubrication, typically an open or shielded seal design for oil and grease; pre-lubrication, typically a shielded or closed seal design for oil and grease; or solid lubrication, typically with Polymer-based solid lubrication in closed design.


Select the bearing size based on load type, load capacity, shaft size, or housing size.

The bearing design of angular contact bearings can be one-way thrust, two-way thrust, double row, double row angular contact, double thrust, and four-point contact.

Common FAQs

What angles do standard angular contact bearings have? What material are the cages made of?

The contact angles of standard products are 15°, 25°, and 40°. The bearing cages with 15° and 25° contact angles are mostly made of bakelite, and the bearing cages with 40° contact angles are made of copper, nylon, and steel plates.

In which direction do angular contact bearings provide load capacity?

Single-row and tandem ball bearings provide unidirectional thrust for axial loads. The contact angle guides the direction, which also determines the gradient of the combined load.

Do angular contact bearings need to be preloaded?

To remove excess play during bearing installation, the user is subjected to a load pressure known as preload. Angular contact bearings require preload because they must operate in a predefined direction to accommodate axial loads.

Angular contact bearings are important components in many precision instruments. If you have any demand for angular contact bearings or other types of bearings, please contact our sales team at

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