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Better Wheel Bearings

Typically, drive torque is transmitted between the wheel bearing and the axle journal via radial splines.

Typically, drive torque is transmitted between the wheel bearing and the axle journal via radial splines. Given mounting considerations, there is typically clearance between the teeth, which can mean that during operation, the assembly can loosen and potentially lead to bearing failure. Schaeffler Group Automotive (www.schaeffler.com) has developed a new FAG wheel bearing concept that uses axial splines in the axle journal. An orbitally formed shoulder is used as a carrier so that there is no need for tooth clearance and so that mounting is simple: the self-centering axial gear teeth are placed on the axle journal and fixed in place with a central screw in the assembly. Torque transmission is said to be higher compared with radial splines. What’s more, they system weighs about 10% less than conventional wheel bearings, or about 1 kg for all four wheels. While the idea of using axial splines isn’t new, the economical production of systems of this type have apparently been a challenge; this has been overcome via the high-precision cold forming operation used to produce the shoulder. Schaeffler is now in volume production of the new bearing system.