The ball bearings used in every machine with moving components have been largely the same as the ones designed by Leonardo Da Vinci himself. It was one of his least celebrated inventions, but it gradually found its use in almost everything and so much that the same designing principles are used even nowadays. But that may change with the invention of these new greaseless ones.
Ball bearings are a way to reduce friction between the two rotating members; the bearings have inner and outer faces. Torque is transferred from one member to another with the help of some balls that roll in between the two sides. This arrangement provides minimum contact between the two surfaces and performs much better against sliding. The performance of the bearing can be smooth only if the balls are distributed equally. If they touch each other, they will cause friction and result in lower joint efficiencies. Naturally, these ball bearings will come in contact with each other in this arrangement, so cages are used to distribute them evenly. These cages cause sufficient friction, and you need to lubricate the whole assembly to increase the life of these bearings. But with the new greaseless bearing technology Autonomous Decentralized Bearing (ADB), the balls can be spaced without any cage.
The design trick behind ADB is that instead of a cage, the bearings slide over a tiny grove so that they slow down and pick up speed before going changing direction from downwards to upwards. Despite what seems, this arrangement doesn’t affect the overall performance of the bearing in any way, and it provides a greaseless experience. It is an incredibly simple way to get rid of the greasing part. We hope to see this technology in machines everywhere we go. Sorry Da Vinci, your genius cannot last forever!
Take a look at the video of ADB over here: