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Bushing vs Ball Bearing: What Is The Difference?

In this article we will take a closer look at:

1. Introduction
2. Bushing vs. Ball Bearing: A Quick Overview
3. What is Bushing?
4. What is Ball Bearing?
5. Which is Better to Use - Ball Bearings or Bushings?


Most linear motion systems in various industries and industrial applications require moving parts like bushings, also known as sleeve bearings and ball bearings. They have important functions such as reducing part wear, increasing service life, decreasing noise, and reducing power consumption, and are used in machinery, speed applications, automotive projects, and even aerospace.

However, bushing vs. ball bearing information is frequently required because not everyone knows the many ball bearing types and bushings or their differences. If you want to understand the different kinds that you know which to buy, like bronze bushings, plain bearings, and more, read through some of this helpful ball bearing vs. bushing guide below.

Bushing vs Ball Bearing: A Quick Overview

Bushings Ball Bearings

More friction

Deal with minor misalignments

Not intended to take much lateral force

Bearing design allows for easier management of heavy and high loads and axial loads and forces

Common bushing materials are bronze, alloys, graphite, stainless steel, and similar heavy-duty metals

Smoother motion than bushings

Impregnated with oil for lubrication to become self-lubricating

Built with tighter tolerances for a tighter fit

More cost-effective than many linear ball bearings, roller ball bearings, rolling element bearings, and journal bearings.

Available in various materials, which means you can purchase plastic bearings, steel bearings with corrosion resistance, and ceramic bearings.

Quieter than ball bearings at low speeds and high speeds.

Linear ball bearings can only be used on hardened shafts

Can be used on hardened or non-hardened shafts

The linear type of bearing must be used with hardened shafts like chrome-plated.

Bushings, like drill bushings, generally require less maintenance than linear ball bearings

You must lubricate the shaft periodically and perform maintenance to avoid contaminants

They must overcome static high and low friction forces on moving parts

Can lose their smooth motion, resulting in increased noise and jamming

Wider tolerances that can negatively impact the fit on smooth rods

Require more maintenance than bushings


What Is a Bushing?

Bushings are thin tubes used in machinery with sliding or rotating shafts to reduce noise, minimize vibration, and improve efficiency. Bushings feature in vehicles, drill jigs, motors, hydraulic external gear pumps, and more.

Depending on the manufacturers and suppliers you source your bushings, tools, and accessories from, you may see them described as bushing bearings since they are technically a bearing type. However, they are designed as single parts rather than oscillating or moving bearings that move between two components.

What Is a Ball Bearing?

When you browse the internet for information covering drill bushing vs. sleeve bearing and similar, you can learn what a ball bearing is. It’s a type of rolling-element bearing designed to carry radial loads, reduce friction, and keep moving machine parts in place.

There are many different ball bearing designs, such as:

  • Angular contact bearings – Work under combined radial and axial loads with a generous load capacity
  • Thrust bearings – Also known as axial bearings to work under thrust loads or force applied parallel to the axis
  • Deep-groove bearings – For radial and light axial loads
  • Linear bearings – Allow movement along a linear axis in a single direction
  • High-speed angular contact bearings – Precision bearings to handle high RPMs precisely and accurately with durability
  • Self-aligning bearings – Two sets of self-aligning balls that carry radial and light axial loads

Which Is Better to Use – Ball Bearings or Bushings?

Now that you know what bushings and ball bearings are after thorough research and catalog reading, you’ll need to decide which is the better option for your unique project. There are many reasons why bushings are worth your consideration.

  • Self-lubrication – Once you impregnate them with oil, the oil is drawn to the surface to oil the shaft.
  • Lower cost – Bushings are several times more affordable than ball bearings
  • Quieter – Bushings are generally much quieter, especially when compared to poorly maintained bearings
  • Require less maintenance – They lubricate themselves once you add the oil