Ad­vent of Ball Bear­ings

LEONARDO DA VINCI

The Borneo Post - Good English - - Short Story Section -

LEONARDO da Vinci in­vented the ball bear­ing be­tween the years 1498-1500. He de­signed it to lower the fric­tion be­tween two plates that would be in con­tact in his other fa­mous de­sign for the He­li­copter.

His he­li­copter would never have flown as hu­mans to do not have any­where near the power to weight ra­tio nec­es­sary to lift them­selves against the force of grav­ity – this is the rea­son why birds have such large breasts ;), their power to weight ra­tio far ex­ceeds that of hu­mans.

The first known dis­cov­ery of a ball bear­ing type de­vice was found in the Ro­man Em­pire abut 40AD, this was a sim­ple ro­tat­ing table with balls un­der­neath, pre­sum­ably to al­low the peo­ple eat­ing at the table to sim­ply ro­tate the table to get at other foods.

The next known men­tion of any type of ball bear­ing was al­most 1500 years later with Leonardo’s de­sign. 100 years af­ter Leonardo’s de­sign, Galileo Galileo would also men­tion an early form of ball bear­ing. It wouldn’t be un­til 1792 that there was a patent filed for the “mod­ern” ball bear­ing – it was granted to the English­man Philip Vaughn in 1791.

Ball bear­ings can be found in any ma­chine that has ro­tary mo­tion, in fact, if you are read­ing this on a PC or Lap­top, there is a ball bear­ing in the fan cool­ing the CPU. They can be found in en­gines, kitchen ap­pli­ances, bi­cy­cles and a mil­lion other ma­chines. They are so im­por­tant that the Royal Air Force reg­u­larly bombed Ger­man Ball Bear­ing Fac­to­ries dur­ing World War 2 in an ef­fort to try to stop the Ger­man War Ma­chine.

Nowa­days ball bear­ings are cre­ated by ma­chine and can at­tain an ac­cu­racy of within thou­sandths of a mil­lime­tre, the small­est of which are used in watches and re­mote con­trol/RC he­li­copters

A vi­tal up­date to the ball bear­ing came with the in­ge­nu­ity of Sven Wingquist, the in­ven­tor and de­signer of the Self-Align­ing Ball Bear­ing.

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