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The Bearing 411

An assortment of cam and roller followers, also known as track rollers.

Cam Followers vs. Roller Followers

When you need to convert rotary motion into linear motion, you’re going to want to invest in some form of cam or roller follower. However, it’s not always easy to figure out which style is the best choice for your design if you don’t have a lot of bearing experience. Read on for a quick breakdown of both cam and roller followers and to find out which type of follower is right for your needs.

What’s the Difference Between Cam and Roller Followers?

Cam and roller followers perform similar tasks and provide similar benefits. Both parts can accept high radial and shock loads thanks to extra thick outer rings and offer various roller and material options based on your needs. However, there’s one major difference: Roller followers are mounted on an existing shaft while cam followers already have a shaft attached.

Cam followers have a built-in shaft with a grooved end that allows you to screw the part directly into a piece of metal or some other surface. Roller followers, also known as track rollers, require an application to have a shaft or other similar mounting part as part of its design. You would then need to match the diameter of that housing with the right roller follower.

Why Choose One Before the Other?

In general, the biggest reason why you would choose one type of follower over the other is because of special constraints in your design. The cam follower’s existing stud makes it a natural choice if you already have a surface that allows you to mount the bearing within your design. If a shaft is already there, cam followers allow you to invest in parts with less material.

When it comes down to specific load ratings and other factors, the choice between cam and roller followers is more about finding the right specific part for your needs as opposed to choosing between one of the two styles. Both cam and roller followers offer similar range of performance capabilities in terms of load ratings and other features.

Since roller followers require a shaft for mounting, you’ll also need to evaluate which bore size is right for your design if you choose that style of bearing. Roller followers can come with or without inner rings, which can allow you to match your parts to the shaft or reduce part weight and the cost of extra material.

Where Can I Find the Right Cam or Roller Followers?

Once you know which type of bearing is right for your design, you still need to identify which exact part is best suited for your application. As a premier bearing supplier, Ritbearing’s team of experts and a network of bearing manufacturers like JNS allows us to provide businesses with parts that are right for their performance needs and budget.

Need the right cam or roller follower for your design? Our experts can work with you to identify an existing part or custom engineer a new solution to make sure you have the best followers for your business. Contact us today to about your bearing supply needs.