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8 Industrial Applications that Use Carbon Graphite Bearings

Self-lubricating carbon graphite bearings are very common across a number of industries. When it comes to industrial applications, everyone from manufacturing facilities to power plants can have better bearing performance—as well as increased cost savings—when they implement carbon graphite bearings in their designs.

Although other bearing types like solid bronze bearings and lubricated roller bearings are suitable for many industries, they can’t always hold up to severe service applications. These bearings require frequent maintenance and replacement, which can considerably increase operating costs and negatively impact performance.

Carbon graphite bearings, on the other hand, are maintenance-free and their extremely low coefficient of friction allows for optimal bearing performance.

We highlighted just a few industrial applications below in which carbon graphite is successfully employed and has historically proven to provide significant performance improvements.

1. Mining | Longer Maintenance Intervals


Mine shafts often utilize long conveyors to transport extracted ore and other materials from deep in the mine to the mine’s exit. These conveyors are often in relatively inaccessible locations, making it difficult to consistently apply lubrication and regular maintenance to the conveyor’s bearings. Carbon graphite not only makes the application of lubrication unnecessary, it also allows for longer maintenance intervals and decreased frictional resistance at the bearing interface.

2. Metal Treating | Lubrication-Free in extreme temps

Heat treatment of metals is a crucial process in many industries, from automotive production to industrial toolmaking. This process involves heating metal to extreme temperatures (often greater than 1,000°F) to alter certain physical properties like hardness, strength, and toughness. Whether this is done as a batch or continuous process, heat treatment furnaces will often use carbon graphite bearings, since the oil or grease lubrication that is required to lubricate conventional roller bearings will burn up at the high temperatures required to heat treat metal.

3. Coal Power | wear-resistant Conveyor bearings

Coal power plants (along with many other industrial facilities) use electrostatic precipitators to collect suspended dust particles from the air by means of large electrically charged plates. Once collected, this dust is transported on a drag out conveyor to be properly disposed of. Drag out conveyors often use copper impregnated carbon graphite bearings for their wear resistance and long working life. By using carbon graphite instead of traditional lubricated bearings, drag out conveyor manufacturers are able to provide a much less maintenance-intensive unit that results in huge cost savings.

4. Wastewater Treatment | No seizing while submerged

Wastewater pumps often require fairly heavy duty bearings that are able to run directly submerged in water. Metallic bearing materials like bronze are not sufficiently lubricated by water like carbon graphite is. On top of this, the atomic attraction of these bearings to a metallic shaft often results in seizing and galling. Carbon graphite bearings do not have this problem and they are durable enough to run submerged in most types of fluids, including wastewater.

5. Nuclear Power | Unmatched Reliability


Nuclear power plants have high temperature dampers that re-direct the flow of air as necessary throughout the facility. These dampers rely on bearings that can not only withstand very high temperatures, but are also maintenance-free. Carbon graphite meets both of these requirements which is why it is commonly used in nuclear power plants around the world.

6. Textile Production | Operating in Caustic Media

The dying of textiles involves pulling lengths of fabric through dye baths. These units often need bearings that can not only run fully submerged in dye, but can also resist chemical corrosion from the dye chemicals. In addition to being able to run fully submerged in a wide array of fluids, carbon graphite is an inert material that can operate in most corrosive media, from caustic acids to strong alkalis. For these reasons, carbon graphite bearing assemblies are common in textile dying facilities.

7. Glass Tempering | Holding Up to Heat

Glass used in safety critical applications must be tempered, which essentially means that it is heated and cooled to strengthen the glass and allow it to break into relatively harmless chunks instead of sharp shards. Carbon graphite is not wetted by molten glass and it holds up well to the immense heat associated with glass tempering, making it a go-to material for glass tempering line manufacturers.

8. Pulp & Paper Production | Intense Processing


The practice of creating pulp and converting it into paper is process-intensive and involves high temperatures, caustic chemicals, and massive conveyor systems. Whether they are used directly in a pulp mixer or on a long dryer conveyor, carbon graphite bearings and rotary unions are an integral component of pulp & paper plants. Few other materials can properly self-lubricate in these conditions.

Most industries use carbon graphite in one way or another. The versatility and durability of carbon graphite bearings allow them to operate in conditions where no other bearing can perform reliably. There are hundreds of carbon grades available, each of which has been designed for specific applications. For more information on which grade is right for your application, contact Metcar’s engineers today.

Questions about a specific application? Get in touch to speak with an engineer about your process.

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