Thrust ball bearings are designed to withstand axial loads, and are not suited to radial loads. To prevent the onset of sliding movements between the balls and the grooves due to centrifugal forces and gyroscopic moments, thrust ball bearings must only be subjected to a certain minimum axial load. These bearings can be dismantled, therefore the corresponding internal and external wheels can be fitted separately.
Thrust bearings are also provided in needle, cylindrical, tapered, and spherical versions. These versions offer higher load capacities for applications subjected to high thrust with minimum dimensions.
There are two types of thrust bearings - single-direction and double-direction.
Single-direction versions can withstand axial load acting in one direction only. They have one wheel for the shaft (internal), one for the housing (external), and a row of balls or rollers and corresponding cage. Double-direction versions can withstand axial load acting in both directions. The have one internal wheel, two external wheels and a cage complete with rows of rollers. The external wheels on thrust bearings may have a flat or spherical support housing.