Rod End Bearings Vs Thrust Bearings: Which Is Right for Your Next Project?

Date Posted:16 August 2023 

Rod End Bearings Vs Thrust Bearings: Which Is Right for Your Next Project? main image Rod End Bearings Vs Thrust Bearings: Which Is Right for Your Next Project? image

When you’re looking at bearings online, it’s fair to find yourself a little overwhelmed by the sheer scale of selection. However, not all bearings are made equal — and we’re not just talking about the difference between a dodgy and a quality bearing. Different bearings suit different applications. So, it’s important to know which will serve you best for your current project.

In regards to rod ends and thrust bearings, this quick post will give you the basics you need to make the smart choice between these two to best suit your needs.

How Do You Tell Rod End Bearings From Thrust Bearings?

Bearings aren’t made for aesthetics — it’s all about application. This means that you should be able to tell different bearings apart by look alone; particularly when you’re dealing with two such different bearings as rod ends and thrust bearings.

How to Spot a Rod End

These mechanical joints have a spherical inner ring, complete with a cylindrical bore to allow easy and convenient shaft mounting. They’re essentially a ball swivel with an opening which a bolt or attachment can pass through and be securely attached to. As a result, you’ll find them in just about every mechanical device you can think of, from steering columns in your car to helicopter rotor setups.

Importantly, as you’re perusing stores for your perfect rod end bearings, remember that you might find them under a few different names depending on where you’re looking. For instance, in the UK they tend to be called rose joints, while those stateside usually call them heim joints.

How to Identify Thrust Bearings

Compared to rod ends, thrust bearings look more like your standard bearing. They’re a circular bearing with a pair of raised thrust collars which will go around the shaft. There are also a great number of thrust bearing variations with ball and roller options as just the tip of the iceberg.

When Do Rod End Bearings Shine?

So, what are the advantages of rod end bearings? Well, if you need a precise articulating joint, they’re your best bet. Additionally, if for whatever reason you can’t use a clevis end in that spot, a rod end can be a good alternative.

This is because rod ends can rotate precisely in a controlled manner. As a result, they can accommodate low to moderate shaft misalignment — any angle really besides something at 90 degrees.

What Makes Thrust Bearings a Strong Contender?

If you’re dealing with axial loads or force (this is when the force or load is going in the same direction as the shaft), a thrust bearing is a better choice. They allow rotation between parts, while supporting the axial thrusts of both horizontal and vertical shafts. This is because the thrust collar transfers that axial load from the shaft to the bearing. Additionally, they’re available in a huge range of options, meaning you can get a specific thrust bearing for your application needs. This includes being able to separate their mounting to best suit the project.

So, if you’re after a great performance in a high load-carrying capacity — even in a harsh environment — a thrust bearing is a reliable choice.

So Which Should I Use?

When deciding between rod ends and thrust bearings, it ultimately comes down to whether you’re looking to handle articulation, or axial loads or force. For the former, a rod end will always be better, while the latter is best served by a thrust bearing. With that question answered, you can get further into specifics looking at the different types of bearings available in these ranges. This can include what materials they are made from or specific design changes to better suit different applications.

Find Bearings You Can Trust at Refast

Whether it’s a rod end, thrust bearing or something else entirely, Refast is your go-to for engineering bearings and other speciality equipment. With our wide selection, you’re sure to find just the bearing you need, and, if you can’t, we’re always happy to special order something just for you.