Spherical roller bearings - ball bearings

How do I compare top brands of ball bearings?

by Kevin Sweeney
14 November, 2022
5 min read

The first thing in comparing brands is to identify what areas you want to compare. Quality bearing manufacturers meet international standards. It is easy to identify brands part numbers as they are universally coded however there are  differences in manufacturing components and processes.

As a rule as long as the manufacturer is recognized as a top manufacturer you can with great confidence specify and buy from any of them. However, like many things, the devil is in the details, and you would be prudent to look exactly at what manufacturing processes and components are used based on the level of sophistication for your application.

The standards for bearing manufacturing tolerances  are identified as follows:

  • AFBMA – Antifriction Bearing Manufacturers Association (American)
  • ABMA – Annular Bearing Manufacturers Association (American)
  • ABEC – Annular Bearing Engineering Committee (American)
  • RBEC – Rolling Bearing Engineering Committee (American)
  • ANSI – American National Standards Institute
  • ISO – International Standard Organization-International
  • DIN – Deutsches Institut für Normung -German 
  • JIS – Japanese Industrial Standard

Quality Bearing Companies use the same standards for manufacturing however they may use different designs and incorporate different features so while they are interchangeable for form and fit sometimes the function can behave differently due to internal design differences.

The design differences between two top-quality manufacturers could lead to failure by one and success by the other. You cannot draw a conclusion that the failed design does not still come from a reputable and quality manufacturer.

Companies like SKF, NMB, Schaeffler Group consisting of Barden, FAG and INA, Kaydon, RBC, TPI, NMB, RBC, Myonic, and NB are all good examples of companies that we consider as offering quality, and value.


Companies like PIB offer Engineers and others online tables to select bearing types. After specifying what bearing you want you can purchase samples online. If you want to compare brands you can call us for more information regarding internal designs for each type. Internal designs such as cage type, ball diameter, raceway curvatures, materials, rockwell hardness, etc.

For example – SKF Deep groove ball bearings

Using top brands will save you much time and effort. Customers seeking the lowest cost parts often find them to be the predominant cause of application failures. Over the years countless dollars have been needlessly spent trying to fix the problems that cheap inexpensive bearings have caused. 

Cost is a driving factor for many due to the high volume and needs to design low-cost products. Bearings are generally critical in most applications and so it is not advisable to look at bearings as a commodity.

In my experience, it is notable that cost savings can be achieved through thoughtful design and bearing selection seeking quality and value. Find and use Distribution companies who have a track record in the industry and can steer you in the right direction.

Bearing Distribution companies offer stock and know the differences between brands highlighting those who excel based on type.

Bearing manufacturers like other industries specialize and display dominance in different manufacturing areas. Contact us and we will help.

Work with Qualified and Authorized Distributors in selecting the best option for you.

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Written by

Kevin Sweeney

Founder and CEO at Pacific International Bearing Sales Inc (PIB)
Education: BS Business and Economics California State University Hayward Ca
CBS (Certified Bearing Specialist)

My role with Pacific International Bearings (PIB) is currently CEO. Since 1976, I have been deeply involved in the bearing industry, working in manufacturing sales at NTN Bearing and subsequently in Bearing Distribution. Before establishing PIB in 1990, I gathered valuable experience in bearing manufacturing and distribution. The last 45 + years in the bearing industry have been both rewarding and challenging, assisting customers across a large number of diverse bearing applications.
Outside of the bearing industry, my interests are family, woodworking, motorcycling, cars, gardening, and golf.
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