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High performance cageless bearings with minimal frictional loss


The invention is a cageless bearing with rolling separator elements. The design will reduce friction by ensuring the rolling elements are only ever in pure rolling, as opposed to sliding contact which involves higher frictional losses. Additionally, these elements are not in sliding contact with the inner race. Categories for applications include portable medical devices, toys and consumer robotic applications with medium force requirements.


Technology Overview:

The global bearings market size was valued at USD 81.6 billion in 2015 and is expected to grow, significantly, owing to the increasing commercial and industrial machinery and manufacturing activity. Bearings are used in virtually every machine that contains a rotating shaft to rotate freely with minimal friction.


The design of conventional cageless bearing systems is inefficient due to both sliding and incidental friction losses as well as viscous losses due to requirement of lubrication. Hence the main problem is mechanical inefficiency.  Additionally, some of the systems also incorporate complex components into their design, such as gear teeth or harmonic gear cups that increase cost. For heavy-duty vehicles, 26% of the fuel energy is spent overcoming parasitic frictional losses such as bearing loss. If bearing loss can be significantly reduced, the fuel efficiency of such systems could be significantly improved.


Researchers at Penn have described a normal cageless bearing with added rolling separator elements to overcome these issues. The proposed bearing system eliminates sliding friction losses by ensuring that all contacting surfaces have the same velocity which leads to pure rolling, thereby reducing incidental contact. This design can be modified into a friction drive transmission device with a small form factor by splitting the outer race into two parts. The result is a low cost, low noise and high efficiency system with no sliding, incidental, and viscous losses.





  • High performance with low frictional loss bearing
  • This no-slip bearing system can be modified to become combined friction drive transmission and bearing.
  • The bearing can be used in combination with Prendo’s robot arm product (PI’s UPstart company)
  • Example categories for applications include portable medical devices, toys and consumer robotic applications with medium force requirements



  • High efficiency and high-performance system
  • No sliding, viscous and incidental friction losses
  • Low noise
  • Low cost due to reduced manufacturing and assembly costs (no cage or gear teeth)
  • Eliminates need for lubrication
  • Transmission has a small form factor

Stage of Development:

  • Prototype was developed
  • Additional work needed to characterize performance in preparation for conference submission


Reference Media:

Conference submission ICRA (09/10/2018)


Desired Partnerships:

  • License
  • Co-development


Docket # 17-8302


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Joshua Jeanson
Associate Director, SEAS/SAS Licensing Group
University of Pennsylvania
Mark Yim