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Fan bearing designs: evaluating the strengths and limitations of each

CUI’s Ryan Smoot considers the two most common fan bearing types and introduces a third option.


Fans are vital to numerous electronic systems, supporting their function within particular temperature parameters and maintaining optimum operation during their working life. Central to a fan’s design is the reliable operation of the bearing that keeps the rotor spinning. The sleeve bearing and the ball bearing are the two designs most frequently employed, but what are their benefits and disadvantages, and is there an alternative option?

Sleeve bearing fans comprise a simple design; they are economical, rugged, and less noisy than their ball bearing counterparts. Yet their central shaft design, enclosed within a sleeve, makes them prone to lubricant leakage, erosion, and ultimately a shorter lifespan.

On the other hand, the ball bearing fan, with a more complex design using a ring of balls around a shaft, is less likely to deteriorate and works at high temperatures, at any angle. However, it is less cost-effective, noisier, and more susceptible to shock and vibration.

Here is where CUI’s omniCOOL system steps in. Working like a spinning top, its magnetic structure alongside an enhanced sleeve bearing design counteracts the disadvantages of other fan designs. The magnetic rotor-balancing delivers a fan that’s capable of working at any orientation, with reduced friction, less noise and, strengthened for extra resistance, can work at higher temperatures. In this CUI Insights blog, “Fan Bearing Types – Weighing the Pros and Cons”, learn how the omniCOOL system offers designers a true alternative without the need to compromise.

Read the full blog post here.

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