SKF has developed a new customized bearing for steering columns, which exhibits significantly reduced noise levels. The pre-loaded wire steering column bearing (P-WSCB) is aimed at Tier One automotive manufacturers, and will help them to meet the low-noise specifications of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Noise reduction of vehicle sub-systems is currently a major trend in automotive manufacture. This is because quieter engines – particularly in electric or hybrid cars – no longer mask the sound from sub-systems such as steering, transmission and suspension.
Excess noise is often perceived as a failure by customers and end users, while low noise is a sign of quality and comfort. Tier Ones and OEMs are likely to have more confidence in the durability and overall performance of bearings that run more quietly.
Commenting on the new product, Andrea Griseri, Steering & Suspension Unit Manager at SKF, said: “This low noise bearing completes the portfolio of SKF steering column bearings. It reduces noise levels by around 4dB(A) compared with standard SKF bearings – and even more in comparison with competitor products. And it does this while maintaining existing high performance characteristics.”
Gaps in the wire raceway give flexibility to the bearing’s outer ring, which allows for press fit mounting into the housing. Careful design of the gap helps to reduce bearing noise. Other important design features that reduce noise include: reduced roughness of the inner ring; a change of ball quality grade; and optimization of grease quantity.
The bearing offers a better driving feel, in terms of friction torque and steering column stiffness, and helps to mitigate vibrations from the road to the driver. It supports axial and radial loads well, and provides electrical conductivity, which helps towards the smooth functioning of airbags and other electrical components.
The new bearings are expected to find use in higher specification cars, as well as electric vehicles.