Barden Precision Ball Bearings of Danbury, Connecticut created this display of their precision ball bearings around 1950. Eight small ball bearings are embedded in an acrylic plastic block, displaying the precision manufacturing necessary to create ball bearings for use in small devices. Barden was founded during World War II to manufacture bearings used in the Norden bombsight. The Anti Friction Bearing Manufacturers Association collected bearings for a public relations exhibit during the early 1950s, and donated them to the museum in 1977.
Simple bearings have been used for thousands of years reducing friction on turning parts like the axles of carts. In the late 1800s and early 1900s advances in machining and production expanded bearing use in all types of machines greatly increasing their life and precision. Bearings reduce friction on turning surfaces and keep them running true. Bearings come in a variety of shapes and sizes (including ball, roller, tapered, and simple friction). Modern bearings are often set in an inner and outer ring (called a race) sometimes with cages (separators) spacing the bearings. Changes to the size, shape, alignment, race, and cage allow for bearings to be used in almost any industry—from industrial turbines and automobiles to household mixers and computer hard drives.
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