Ceramic BearingsThe ceramic in ceramic bearings actually refers to the composition of the rolling elements (i.e. the balls and rollers). The rolling elements are made from Silicon Nitride, which can be built extremely hard, round and smooth. As balls and rollers become more round, the bearing can run with less rolling resistance. Hardness provides for less deflection in the bearing system which in turn can stabilize operating conditions. Smoothness obviously decreases friction. While researching bearing technology for this article, we found there were more questions than answers with regards to ceramic bearing technology and that using ceramic bearings requires careful engineering (in addition to a large bankroll). Caution should be taken to source bearings from a reliable manufacturer who can provide proper engineering data and advice. Simply replacing steel balls with ceramics does not work in all cases. As bearings heat and cool, the clearances designed for steel rolling elements may not be correct for ceramics. A ceramic bearing intended for use in an industrial environment, for example, may fail in a racing application. With all that being said, ceramics can offer a reduction in friction with an increase in life and speed.
A carefully maintained bearing program can pay dividends with regards to speed and reliability. With a bit of technology research, and specifying certain bearings and processes, further gains can be realized, which just may put your car to the front of the pack.