There are a lot of possibilities when it comes to bearings and they are the most important thing when it comes to spin time. It’s important to get the right ones for you as it’s the key component and there is no bearing that will be the best for everyone because each of them comes with a good and a bad side.
Nearly all spinners come with bearings that have an outer diameter of 22mm.
Most commonly used bearing materials
Plastic bearings are the cheapest ones and not surprisingly the worst when it comes to fidget spinners. I don’t suggest them for spinners, the friction is too high and they don’t last long.
Basic steel/metal bearings are better than plastic as they last longer and spin better, but I recommend them only on the outside of the spinner as outer bearings are only there to add weight and increase inertia.
Ceramic hybrid bearings are made with ceramic balls, but have steel inner and outer rings and compared to metal bearings these are more expensive but makes less noise, vibration and are more resistant to corrosion which makes them long lasting. They spin 8 to 9 times longer than metal bearings.
Full ceramic bearings are super smooth and as the name suggest they come with ceramic balls and ceramic races. Ceramic is a lighter material and has a less rolling resistance which allows longest spin time. Ceramic bearings usually come without lubrication which makes them a bit louder and that may disturb others if you spin it in quiet places like library or classroom. Full ceramic bearings are also most expensive ones.
What is ABEC?
The ABEC scale is an industry accepted standard for the tolerances of a ball bearing. It was developed by the Annular Bearing Engineering Committee (ABEC) of the American Bearing Manufacturers Association (ABMA). The ABEC scale is designed to provide bearing manufacturers dimensional specifications that meet the standards of precision bearings in a specified class. Manufacturers who produce equipment that require bearings must also know the dimensional tolerances to design parts that will accommodate a bearing.
The higher ABEC classes provide better precision, efficiency, and the possibility of greater speed capabilities, but do not necessarily allow the components to spin faster as there are other factors that determine the speed such as lubricant and ball material which ABEC doesn’t specify, but in general higher ABEC rating is better.
For spinners most commonly used are 5, 7 and 9 class bearings, these are sometimes called high/super/super high/ultra-precision bearings.
ABEC 7 bearing has a 5-micron tolerance window whereas an ABEC 5 has that at 6 microns so the difference isn’t that large. ABEC 9 is the highest standard bearing with only 2 micron tolerance and it would be used in a very critical high-tech application, like a rocket ship or Fidget Panda spinners 🙂