Starting in 1963, Silicon Nitride was developed by NASA for Thermal Protection Systems for the space program at the University of Washington's Department of Material's, Science and Engineering. Eventually, manufacturer's of various products, from the starting block of all machinery, the ball bearing, to manufacturer's of complete ceramic engine assemblies, have been slowly discovering the benefits and various use's of today's hi-tech ceramics.
The machine tool industry has been a pioneer in the use of ceramic hybrid ball bearings. Many different types of hi-performance motor racing programs, like Formula 1, are also discovering the advantages to using ceramic hybrids.
Ball bearing manufacturer's soon discovered that after refitting their own factory machinery with Ceramic Hybrid Ball Bearings, the increase in performance over conventional steel ball bearings was so dramatic, that the use of hybrids could no longer be considered a "luxury", but a necessity.
During evaluation periods, manufacturer's discovered that every single spindle tested showed vibration levels to be two to seven times lower when run with ceramic hybrids. With machine's that were using conventional steel ball bearings, tolerance's were harder to maintain and tool life was shorter.
Silicon Nitride ceramic balls are virtually indestructible, and survive in thermal and heavy load environments that will destroy steel balls. Advanced processing methods result in a uniform and stress free material that won't dent or rust and is virtually unbreakable. Ceramics are mirror finished and will not wear or degrade over time. Ceramic balls have demonstrated a 3 to 5 time life improvement over traditional steel designs!
The switch to ceramic hybrids in machinery resulted in;