Kaydon(SKF): Thin Section and Slewing Ring Bearings

Kaydon(SKF): Thin Section and Slewing Ring Bearings

by Kevin Sweeney
03 April, 2023
11 min read

Kaydon Bearing Company was started in 1941 and currently leads all others in the manufacturing of standard slim or thin section bearings, section ball bearings, and slewing ring bearings.

Kaydon Bearing Company manufactures in Ohio, Mexico, China, and Brazil. All the facilities are ISO 9001, ISO 9100DD, and several other ISO designations and are approved for aerospace bearing applications.

What is a Kaydon bearing?

Kaydon bearings are characterized by thin cross-section profiles, these bearings are narrow by design affording an advantage in applications where space limitations exist..

Kaydon’s product line includes angular contact, radial contact, and four-point contact bearings, each designed to meet specific application requirements. Kaydon Angular Contact bearings are paired to handle combined loads (axial and radial). Kaydon Radial ball bearings are designed for radial loads, while four-point contact bearings are versatile and capable of managing moment loads and a mix of radial and axial forces.

Material selection and engineering precision stand at the forefront of Kaydon’s manufacturing philosophy. Utilizing high-grade alloys, such as stainless steel, ensures not only the longevity and robustness of the bearings but also their suitability for challenging environments where corrosion resistance and material strength are non-negotiable.

Kaydon offers customizing bearings to the exacting specifications for various applications.

Kaydon Bearing Applications

Kaydon Bearing provides solutions for many applications, from commercial aerospace to robotics. As with many bearings, Kaydon provides engineering to solve complex design issues found in medical, mining, robotics, and semiconductor applications.

Kaydon Bearings are widely used, but not limited to, the following applications: 

  • Robotics 
  • Machine tools 
  • Aerospace  
  • Defense 
  • Astronomy instrumentation 
  • Fixturing equipment 
  • Medical systems and medical devices 
  • Industrial equipment 
  • Glass working equipment 
  • Index table packaging equipment 
  • Optical scanning equipment 
  • Agricultural equipment 
  • Tire making equipment 
  • Radar, satellite, and communication equipment 
  • Rotary tables 
  • Textile machinery 
  • Tube and pipe cutting machines 
  • Semiconductor manufacturing equipment 
  • Sorting equipment 
  • Food processing equipment 
  • Drones 
  • Workholding equipment 

Kaydon provides years of engineering experience when solving some of the most demanding and unique applications. The Kaydon Reali-Slim® inch-standard bearing was the first of its type and is useful in so many cases where a narrow width bearing is required.

Kaydon thin bearing products are designed to save weight, fit into tight spaces, reduce friction, increase design options, and provide high running accuracy.

Kaydon bearings are available in several different materials such as AISI 52100 chrome steel, 440C stainless steel, and Cronoduir steel. Various options for ball retainers and cross-section dimensions are offered. Kaydon also offers these bearings in ABEC 1, ABEC5, and higher tolerances. With the options available there are many choices for lubricants, materials offering corrosion resistance, different contact angles, and precision levels.

Robotics bearings

The use of Industrial Robots is growing very fast and Kaydon Reali-Slim® bearings are being specified.

Lighter weight requirements by the modern-day robots using Kaydon bearings have improved response times and require less inertia thereby optimizing power draw.

As the number of robot installations continues to grow, more designers than ever are specifying Kaydon bearings.

Newer lighter-weight robot designs maximize payloads and reduce inertia, improving response times and optimizing power requirements. The use of Kaydon compact bearing components allows engineers to meet stringent space requirements.

Advantages Reali-Slim bearings

Kaydon Reali-Slim® bearings deliver both weight and space advantages: a Reali-Slim KA020CP0 reduces weight by 85% and space by 83% compared to a standard 6010 radial ball bearing.

Real-Slim® bearings feature the same cross-section even as bore sizes change. Kaydon bearings are highly precise but still provide plenty of dynamic capacity. Reali-Slim Type X four-point bearings will accept combined radial and thrust loads. The Four Point design also acts in overturning moment load, and they can simplify a robot’s overall design by replacing a pair of angular contact bearings with just one Type X.

In the Kaydon lineup, there are duplex pair bearings that come preloaded, so no shimming is needed. Kaydon’s Super Duplex bearings feature a common race either inner or outer dependent upon the application. Duplex paired Kaydon bearings offer both low torque and provide for high rigidity.

Duplex pair (left), Super Duplex (center), cartridge (right)
         Duplex pair (left), Super Duplex (center), cartridge (right) 

For the Robotics application, having stainless steel as an option greatly increases its use across a vast number of applications. Pacific International Bearing Sales Inc, as a Kaydon Distributor, has access to over 550 sizes and configurations.

In six-axis robots, Kaydon offers slewing ring bearings often used in the first axis, sometimes called the midsection or waist, which supports the entire robot structure including the arm and payload. Kaydon’s slewing ring bearings are great for maintaining rotational accuracy, have an excellent load carrying capacity and last for a long-life rating.

Paint Robot using Kaydon bearing
Paint Robot using Kaydon bearing

Kaydon small thin section turntable bearings are used in numerous robotics applications. Reali- Real-SlimTT® series bearings reduce the envelope needed due to its smaller size. Robotic applications need weight savings and the design flexibility that Kaydon offers with its Real-SlimTT® (turntable) bearings makes Kaydon a natural choice over conventional slewing ring bearings.

Pacific International Bearing Inc. offers comprehensive engineering and technical support through its relationship with Kaydon Bearing Company. Kaydon Bearings are available for use in a wide range of robotic applications.

Industrial applications include painting, welding, and handling robotic machinery.

Surgical Robot using Kaydon Bearings
Surgical Robot using Kaydon Bearings

Medical Applications for Kaydon Bearings include robotic surgery, artificial limbs, personal robots, and exoskeletons. Other applications include semiconductor machines, pick-and-place, oil and gas, iron roughnecks, wafer transfer, aerospace/defense, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), unmanned surface vehicles, Mars rovers, and all types of drones.

In addition, Kaydon provides the greatest range of thin section bearings, for both Reali-Slim® and Ultra-Slim® bearings, in bore sizes from 0.75″ to 40″ or 19 mm to 1 m.

As with other bearings offered through Pacific International Bearing Sale Inc, Kaydon offers its bearings as Hybrids. Kaydon Hybrid bearings are applied in semiconductor manufacturing where a harsh environment exists. This type of application requires low particle generation, must operate at high speeds, must have low lubrication, and have higher than normal accuracy. Hybrid bearings use 440C stainless steel races and ceramic balls, which reduce the need for lubrication and are ideally suited for this application.

Kaydon slewing bearings

Kaydon slewing bearings represent a specialized category within the broader scope of bearing technology, specifically designed to accommodate oscillating or turning movements. These bearings are essential in applications requiring the support of significant radial, axial, and moment loads, often simultaneously. A comprehensive analysis of Kaydon slewing bearings involves examining their design, material composition, functional capabilities, applications, and unique characteristics.

Design and Construction

Kaydon’s slewing bearings are typically large-diameter bearings designed to handle heavier loads over a broad area. Their construction can be segmented into several key components:

  • Bearings consist of inner and outer rings with integrated raceways. The design of these raceways is critical for distributing the load evenly across the bearing.
  • Slewing bearings utilize either balls or cylindrical rollers as rolling elements. The choice between balls and rollers is determined by the specific load and performance requirements.
  • Effective sealing is crucial for slewing bearings due to their exposure to various environmental conditions. Seals prevent the ingress of contaminants and retain lubrication, which is essential for longevity and smooth operation.
  • Some Kaydon slewing bearings include internal or external gearing, facilitating the integration of the bearing with power transmission systems.

Kaydon selects materials for slewing bearings based on the required strength, longer life, and resistance to environmental factors. High-grade alloy steels are commonly used, offering high load-carrying capacity and resistance to wear and fatigue. For applications in corrosive environments, materials like stainless steel or surface coatings are used to enhance corrosion resistance.

Functional Capabilities

  • Slewing bearings are designed to accommodate axial, radial, and moment loads. Their structure allows them to withstand heavy loads and provide smooth rotational movement.
  • Bearings offer precise control in applications requiring rotational accuracy, such as in positioning systems.
  • Kaydon offers custom solutions in slewing bearings to meet specific application requirements, including different sizes, load capacities, and integration features.


Kaydon slewing bearings are ubiquitous in many heavy industries and applications such as:

  • Wind Turbines: For blade and yaw control.
  • Cranes and Lifting Equipment: In turntables and booms.
  • Medical Equipment: In CT scanners and radiotherapy tables.
  • Industrial Machinery: In robotic arms, turntables, and indexing tables.
  • Unique Characteristics and Challenges
  • Lifespan and Maintenance: Given their application in heavy-duty and critical operations, slewing bearings are designed for long life. Regular maintenance and lubrication are essential for their longevity.

For more information on Hybrid bearings, Contact us at [email protected].

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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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