Daily Management Review

World’s Smallest Ball Bearings Developed in Japan and Recognized by Guinness


08/31/2015




World’s Smallest Ball Bearings Developed in Japan and Recognized by Guinness
Like many other gadgets small, the Guinness World Record for the smallest commercially available steel ball bearing is now with Japan.

Japan’s Minebea Co., Ltd. was awarded this distinction for designing and commercially manufacturing the smallest ball bearing that has an outer diameter at just 1.4978mm.

“We are really delighted to have been given this certificate by Guinness World Records. This is a cornerstone of Minebea. This achievement can be attributed to the unfailing efforts of our engineers and all others involved in the product…..We will redouble efforts to create even more products that enrich people’s lives” said Yoshihisa Kainuma, Representative Director, President and Chief Executive Officer of Minebea.

The ball bearings are produced at the Karuizawa plant of the company. Ikuko Koyama from the Karuizawa plant said:

“The ball bearing’s 1.5mm external diameter was achieved thanks to our team’s efforts throughout the production process. I am really excited that bearings, which are often overlooked, are getting their chance in the spotlight. We boldly attempted to miniaturize bearings to a size never before seen and were able to bring them to market. It’s made me realize that hard work pays off and there is nothing that cannot be achieved,” said Ikuko Koyama from the Karuizawa plant.

As many products trended towards lighter, thinner and smaller designs, the market for miniature ball bearings grew and the importance of the expertise of Minebea was utilized. More than 66 percent of the worldwide market share of ball bearings up to 22mm in external diameter is captured by Minebea.

The technology to develop ball bearings below 2 mm was cracked in 2009 which paved the way for this ultra-small ball bearing. The latest ball bearing measures 1.5mm in external diameter, 0.5mm in inner diameter and 0.65mm in width with six steel balls and supporting retainers. The miniature size and the compactness of the set was not a hindrance for the bearing to comply with the JIS code.

The tourbillon mechanism in the highest-grade mechanical watches in Japan utilizes the record-breaking ball bearings. One of the most difficult parts of watch making is considered to be the design, development and manufacture of tourbillon mechanisms. While the delicate axels of such watches are traditionally supported by jewels such as ruby, the miniature ball bearings manufactured by Minebea are small enough to be used for an application that is considered to be epoch-making among the independent watchmakers in Switzerland.

The miniature ball bearing has opened up a new market for the company with potential for wider use and more applications.

This development is a result of the Takumi Nippon Project which is supported by Guinness World Records Japan K.K. the aim of the project is to stimulate and incentivise engineers, researchers and craftspeople in Japan. The project recognizes the development of the smallest ball bearings to be a demonstration of Japan’s superior industrial technologies to the world.

(Source:www.businesswire.com) 






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