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Upload organization:Japanest NIPPON   Upload date:2011/10/14

NTN: IC Tag Integrated Bearing

History of NTN Corporation
A bearing is a vital mechanical part that enables an axle to rotate. Japanese manufacturers occupy a significant share of the global bearings market, at about one third, with NTN one of three companies making up the majority of this overall Japanese share.

NTN was founded in 1918, specializing in the manufacturing and sale of bearings, going on to gradually establish an international market presence. It has also been strongly focused on basic research in the field. NTN’s findings have contributed to the development of better solutions to combat friction from bearings, and improvements in lubrication and material surfacing. It has also conducted basic research in the development of new materials, such as functional resins and ceramics, as well as measurement technologies. 

Findings from this research led, from the 1980s onwards, to the company launching the manufacturing and sale of constant velocity joints for automobiles, in addition to bearings. Since then, NTN has continued to expand the range of products that make up its core market performers, including axle units. It has successfully transformed itself from a specialist bearings manufacturer into a company producing a diverse range of precision machinery and machine components. Today, in addition to precision instruments, NTN is enterprisingly diversifying its business to cover a wide range of other sectors.

Herein its two latest products, among those representing the broadly diversified business, are showcased.

IC tag integrated bearing
NTN’s manufacturing technologies of established bearing products have a global reputation. Such product lines are markedly superior in wear resistance; repair and replacement are normally due to long term use of the bearings. Bearings are important components of many systems and more detailed information management is required.

NTN has developed an ‘IC tag integrated bearing,’ in which the detailed quality information and usage history of the bearing can be stored and read out as necessary (Fig. 2).

Fig 2
Figure 2. IC tag integrated bearing

So far, ideas to integrate IC tags into bearings to aid required daily maintenance routines have indeed been proposed. However, they have not been realized because data cannot be read out in principle from IC tags that are embedded in metals, or if the size of the IC tag itself is too large to be practically incorporated.

To overcome these difficulties, NTN has manufactured IC tag integrated bearings by developing a small IC tag (4.5 mm in diameter) that does not affect overall bearing size and can store electronic information even when embedded in bearings. Data on these IC tag integrated bearings can be read out and stored using a dedicated reader–writer. Example data fields that can be stored include inner and outer diameters and accuracy of breadth before shipment, as well as date of manufacture and inspection date. What’s more users can freely specify stored data.  

Future of NTN
NTN is working hard to diversify their business; it is aggressively undertaking development not only in precision machine components like bearings but also in areas that are expected to have a growing demand in society in the future, such as natural energy and in-wheel motors.

Since a sales office was established in Germany in 1961, NTN has been actively pursuing globalization and is currently based in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Oceania, covering the growing worldwide market. NTN will not only continue to diversify and globalize, but also make the transition in several years from a precision machinery component manufacturer to a conglomerate enterprise with annual sales of over 10 billion US dollars, while placing utmost importance on field technologies.