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Improve the performance of your cobots

Conical thrust cage needle roller bearings of series XZU enable lightweight robotics to be taken to a new level

Human-centered automation is being used in more and more processes in production. Unlike in the past, the question is no longer: Human or machine? The question now is: How can humans and machines optimally work together? This is where lightweight robots (LWRs) and collaborative robots (cobots) come into play.

The challenge: Articulated arm bearing supports

When it comes to increasing the performance of collaborative robots, their articulated arm bearing supports have proven to be a technically limiting factor. The rigidity and friction of the articulated arms restrict the precision and speed of the robots. Previously, crossed roller bearings were the best option for articulated arm applications, but their potential has been exhausted. In search of a solution that would enable LWRs and cobots to be taken to a new performance level, our engineers turned to needle roller bearing technology.

The Schaeffler solution: XZU conical thrust cage needle roller bearings

With the double-row XZU conical thrust cage needle roller bearing, Schaeffler has developed a new bearing which is unique in design and performance. Decades of experience in needle roller bearings have gone into this product, which makes it the best solution for articulated-arm bearing supports currently available on the market. The double-row X arrangement of the needle rollers in a larger number of load-carrying rolling elements and larger support spacing, which increases the rigidity of XZU bearings by 30 percent compared with conventional crossed roller bearings. By housing the rolling elements in cage guides and having them configured in two raceways, the XZU additionally delivers a full 20 percent reduction in friction.

The benefits: for manufacturers and operators

For OEMs, the XZU conical thrust cage needle roller bearing paves the way for the development of new lightweight robots that are characterized by greater movement precision and less oscillation when approaching the end position. Operators of such robots can thus implement production processes that are significantly more efficient. Thanks to its full compatibility with commonly used bearing solutions, the new XZU bearing can be easily retrofitted in existing LWRs and cobots. This is beneficial even if no increase in performance is intended, as XZU bearings offer a higher load-carrying capacity and longer operating life than crossed roller bearings. This can reduce the risk of failure of the robots and the downtime of entire production lines.


Collaborative robots are conquering production halls. The more efficient they become, the more the demand for them will increase. With its XZU conical needle roller bearing, Schaeffler is laying the foundations for a new level of cobot performance.

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January 2021

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