At Automechanika 2018, NTN-SNR unveiled its new ceramic ball wheel bearing, developed for the new limited edition Jaguar XE SV Project 8.
The ceramic bearing was selected by judging panel from over 120 entries for the 2018 Automechanika Innovation Awards.
Drawing on expertise in aeronautics and racing, NTN-SNR has used ceramic ball technology, already developed and tested in single seater race cars and 24 hour Le Mans race cars.
The main benefit of this technology is the considerable weight savings of 210 grams per bearing, adding up to a 840-gram overall reduction on the vehicle.
Ceramic ball bearings also allow for better bearing rigidity. Reduced deformation when the vehicle is used on the race track helps ensure the excellent dynamics required in the chassis of a vehicle with a top speed of nearly 200 mph.
The ceramic balls also generate far less friction than conventional steel ball bearings, allowing the bearing to rotate much more easily. This reduced friction improves both performance and fuel consumption.
An extreme test plan was devised pre-production.
Engineering difficulties that NTN-SNR had to solve included difference in expansion coefficients between the aluminium of the knuckle, the steel of the bearing and the ceramic balls.
Adjusting preload of the bearing to obtain accurate compensation values enabled NTN-SNR to supply bearings with an expected lifetime of 280,000 miles, as per the strict specifications requested by Jaguar.
The bearing rings are manufactured at the production facility in Annecy-Seynod (Haute-Savoie, France), where the balls are also installed, and then lubrication and final inspection are carried out in the prototype shop of the R&D centre in Annecy.
The project has been added to NTN-SNR’s research plan to accelerate the development of ceramic wheel bearing technology, which is expected to soon be used on series production vehicles.
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