What Are Ball Bearing Drawer Slides?

Ball bearing drawer slides have recently become a major presence in the minds of industrial companies, medical firms, and many other producers. But what separates them from other drawer slides on the market? What advantages do ball bearings convey? Learning about this technology will help you make an educated decision as to whether or not this is the right idea for you.

Conventional Technology Enhanced With Ball Bearings

Mechanically, these units function much like any others. They still feature two rails one inside the other, with one attached to the side of the drawer itself and one attached to the side of the space in which it slides. When pulled out, the rail attached to the drawer pulls out while the one attached to the cabinet stays in place. The end result is that the drawer is supported from its sides, but also pulls out and pushes back smoothly.

Typically, this motion was accomplished with rollers. They are still the most common technology found in inexpensive units, and while they do work, they are typically considered inferior to designs that incorporate ball bearings. While they do not work very differently, ball bearing drawer slides offer a significant advantage because the wear and tear on the rails is mediated by the metallic balls.

Inherent Self Cleaning Properties

When correctly designed, this style of rail is self-cleaning with custom drawer slides very limited maintenance and care requirements. Self-cleaning designs rely on the type of lubrication used. There is an inherent need for lubrication with this type of rail because the design could potentially cause higher friction otherwise. In addition to lubrication properties, most higher end units will include fluid that causes dirt and other contaminants to be flushed from the system. These will also typically protect against rust and other corrosion that can occur over time.

Smoother Operation

One of the biggest advantages of bearings is that they typically provide the smoother, easier operation than other styles. In other designs, the mechanism that governs how the two rails interact has just a single point of contact between them (i.e. a roller). The result is an experience that isn’t totally smooth: it tends to stop and start, or close heavily. With ball bearings, the contact is much more constant. There is a row of bearings between the rails, which leads to a smooth experience because there are multiple points of contact. Instead of putting undue pressure on one part of the rail, the ball bearings distribute the pressure while providing a smooth glide.