3D printed ball bearing

Dear All, I would like to know if there is somebody who 3D printed ball bearings and if so how is it in term of functionality? For my robotics project I need them and I am wondering whether I try to 3D print them or purchase existing one…
Thank you for your feedback

There are a lot of people that have printed ball bearings. I have and they really don’t work all that well but it’s a fun print.

For the Formlabs printers you have to print all of the components and build the bearing just like a real bearing. It’s pretty time consuming and only works with large bearings. You can buy plastic ball bearings if you’re worried about the weight or something.

Unless you are in a pinch or need something very specialized, I cant imagine it would be cheaper, faster, easier, more precise or more durable that purchasing pre-made.

I could be wrong though…

As a “maker - builder” I have found there are times where it just doesn’t make sense to make it yourself.

As an example. I made a storage cabinet once because I had some scrap lumber sitting around and some time on my hands. Seems logical right…free cabinet!

After a week or so of building(more than I originally anticipated), realizing I needed more lumber to complete it plus hardware which I didn’t have already…

The project cost me well over $100 more than I could have gone and bought a pre-made steel one…not counting my time, effort and bumps, nicks and bruises.

Was it more custom?..sure. it also weighed a ton and took two people to move and in the end I was kicking myself.

I look at 3D printing, or any DIY tools or process as better suited for those things that cant be readily bought off the shelf.

NOW…if it is a a challenge or a learning experience for you by building your own bearings iit becomes a valuable education for you then there may be some value there in the exercise.

For me it wouldn’t be. Ball bearings are pretty cheap and made to do what is intended. I would imagine they would be very expensive 3D printed and not all that great.

1 Like

Here is an STL for a bearing. As Fred suggested it is really just a sample part that is used to demonstrate how you can build various fully assembled moving parts on some printers. This is a part that was used by Z-Corporation (now owned by 3d systems) for demonstrating their powder printers. It works for as a demo part for powder printers because you don’t need supports, however the tolerances have to be very loose to allow powder to come out and the balls not to fuse to the rings during the build.
Like most moving or interlocking demo parts, the use case on this one is to sell printers and get the buyer’s mind going about what is possible NOT to make functional ball bearings!

bearing-lowpoly.stl (769.6 KB)