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Whatever your industry, you're probably looking for ways to increase productivity, prevent unplanned downtime, and lower your total cost of operation. Decreasing the corrosion of bearings in your equipment can help you increase your efficiency. oil on ball bearing_s

The most common failure for bearings is corrosion. It is the most naturally destructive factor in the failure of a rolling element bearing. Vapor, moisture, and acids affect the surface of a bearing.

There are three popular choices for reducing bearing corrosion:

  • Lubricants
  • Seals
  • Protective Coatings


The main function of a lubricant is to minimize the wear of metal-on-metal. Some lubricants or greases can also add protection to a bearing in a mildly corrosive environment.

Water-repellent, hydrophobic greases are able to preserve their characteristics even in the presence of a high percentage of water. These prevent the water from penetrating the bearings. Water-resistant greases protect not only against corrosion but also provide lubrication without deterioration.

Water-resistant greases are particularly suitable for lubrication of equipment such as:

  • Submerged axles and articulations
  • Cylindrical roller bearings
  • Plain bearings, bearings, corrugated cylinders
  • Suspension bearings


The primary functions of a bearing seal are to keep lubricant in the bearing and the bearing chamber contaminants out. Typical seal materials such as nitrile rubber and PTFE do not provide much protection against liquids or gasses, which are the most common forms of corrosion.

Using a bearing of a corrosion-resistant material, or a material that will accept a corrosion-resistant coating offers more protection for the bearings in most applications.

Protective coatings

Specialty coatings can be practical and cost-effective options to help maximize bearing operating performance and service life.

Various coatings such as chromium and nickel plating, zinc thermal spray, electro-deposited and chemical deposited barriers can be applied.

In applications where there is salt exposure or acid baths are present, chromium and nickel plating offer excellent corrosion resistance.

Baked-on, solid-film lubricants or phosphates of zinc and manganese give good resistance and are suitable for moderately corrosive operating conditions.

Zinc thermal spray offers a longer-term solution, while also giving the metal cathodic protection.

The biggest failure for using nickel or other plating, is the separation of the coating from the base.  When this occurs, you will see chipping, flaking, and/or peeling.

Corrosion can have a serious impact on bearing life, which in turn affects a machine’s performance, productivity, and cost of operation.

Minimize this impact by considering all of the bearing’s operating conditions when setting the initial design criteria, and including one or more corrosion protection alternatives in their specifications.   ball bearings-020491-edited-2

Bearings and seals are designed for years of service, but improper use or maintenance can lead to premature and costly failures. IER Services (Industrial Electromechanical Repair Services) was founded in 2011 to provide fast, effective, repair services of electromechanical devices of all types. We provide  bearing replacement and maintenance for commercial and industrial applications. We cover Central Ohio and surrounding areas.

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Topics: electric motor sales, ball bearing lubrication, roller bearings, reducing bearing corrosion

IER Services

Written by IER Services