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Title:
AXIALLY SELF-POSITIONING RADIAL SUPPORT BEARING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/066809
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A radial support bearing (500) for use with a shaft, including a substantially cylindrical outer sleeve (510) having a first end face, a second end face, an outer surface extending therebetween, and an inner surface defining a central bore (518). A substantially cylindrical cage (530) includes a central portion extending between a first end portion and a second end portion, the central portion defining a plurality of roller pockets (538a, 538b), and at least one projection (550) extending radially outwardly from the cage. A roller element (560a, 560b) is disposed in each of the roller pockets. The cage is rotatably received within the central bore of the outer sleeve so that the at least one projection extends radially outwardly beyond a perimeter of the central bore.

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Inventors:
COPPER, Anthony (1219 Shadow Way, Greenville, South Carolina, 29615, US)
DAMMERS, William (412 Meadowsweet Lane, Greenville, South Carolina, 29615, US)
SCHERTZ, Daniel (103 Mountain View Court, Pickens, South Carolina, 29671, US)
Application Number:
US2017/053736
Publication Date:
April 04, 2019
Filing Date:
September 27, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
KOYO BEARINGS NORTH AMERICA LLC (29570 Clemens Road, Westlake, Ohio, 44145, US)
International Classes:
F16C33/46; F16C19/46; F16C23/08; F16C43/04
Foreign References:
DE102013202726A12014-08-21
US20160032971A12016-02-04
DE102009032715A12011-01-13
DE102013020675A12014-07-31
DE1862600U1962-11-22
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BRULEY, Kenneth C. (NELSON MULLINS RILEY & SCARBOROUGH, LLPOne Wells Fargo Center,301 South College Street, 23rd Floo, Charlotte North Carolina, 28202, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A radial support bearing for use with a shaft, comprising:

a substantially cylindrical outer sleeve having a first end face, a second end face, an outer surface extending therebetween, and an inner surface defining a central bore; a substantially cylindrical cage including a central portion extending between a first end portion and a second end portion, the central portion defining a plurality of roller pockets, and at least one projection extending radially outwardly from the cage; and

a plurality of roller elements, each roller element being disposed in a respective roller pocket,

wherein the cage is rotatably received within the central bore of the outer sleeve so that the at least one projection extends radially outwardly beyond a perimeter of the central bore.

2. The radial support bearing of claim 1, wherein the first end portion and the second end portion extend axially from a first end and a second end, respectively, of the central portion of the cage, the first end portion and the second end portion of the cage have a radial width that is less than a radial width of the first end and the second end of the central portion of the cage, and the at least one projection extends radially outwardly from one of the first end portion and the second end portion of the cage.

3. The radial support bearing of claim 2, wherein the first end portion and the second end portion of the cage each comprise an annular flange.

4. The radial support bearing of claim 2, wherein the cage further comprises a slot formed in the one of the first end portion and the second end portion of the cage so that the slot is axially disposed between the central portion of the cage and the at least one projection.

5. The radial support bearing of claim 2, wherein the at least one projection comprises a first projection extending radially outwardly from the first end portion of the cage and a second projection extending radially outwardly from the second end portion of the cage.

6. The radial support bearing of claim 5, wherein the cage further comprises a first slot formed in the first end portion so that the first slot is axially disposed between the central portion of the cage and the first projection, and a second slot formed in the second end portion so that the second slot is axially disposed between the central portion of the cage and the second projection.

7. The radial support bearing of claim 1, wherein the at least one projection further comprises a first portion and a second portion, the first portion extending axially from one of the first end portion and the second end portion of the cage beyond one of the first end face and the second end face of the outer sleeve, and the second portion extending radially outwardly from the first portion beyond an inner perimeter of the one of the first end face and the second end face of the outer sleeve.

8. The radial support bearing of claim 7, wherein the at least one projection further comprises a first projection extending from the first end portion of the cage and a second projection extending from the second end of the cage.

9. The radial support bearing of claim 8, wherein both the first projection and the second projection each further comprise a first portion and a second portion, the first portion of the first projection extending axially from the first end portion of the cage beyond the first end face of the outer sleeve, and the second portion of the first projection extending radially outwardly from the first portion of the first projection beyond an inner perimeter of the first end face of the outer sleeve, the first portion of the second projection extending axially from the second end portion of the cage beyond the second end face of the outer sleeve, and the second portion of the second projection extending radially outwardly from the first portion of the second projection beyond an inner perimeter of the second end face of the outer sleeve.

10. The radial support bearing of claim 1, wherein the at least one projection further comprises a first projection having a first portion and a second portion, the first portion having a proximal end adjacent the first end portion of the cage and extending axially to its distal end, and the second portion having a proximal end that is adjacent the distal end of the first portion and extending both axially and radially outwardly to its distal end that is adjacent the first end face of the outer sleeve.

11. The radial support bearing of claim 10, wherein the first portion and the second portion of the first projection intersect at an acute angle.

12. The radial support bearing of claim 10, wherein the distal end of the second portion of the first projection further comprises planar face that is substantially parallel to the first end face of the outer sleeve.

13. The radial support bearing of claim 1, wherein the at least one projection further comprises a first portion and a second portion, the first portion extending axially from one of the first end portion and the second end portion of the cage beyond one of the first end face and the second end face of the outer sleeve, and the second portion extending both transversely from the first portion of the first projection and radially outwardly beyond an inner perimeter of the one of the first end face and the second end face of the outer sleeve.

14. The radial support bearing of claim 13, wherein the at least one projection further comprises a first projection extending from the first end portion of the cage and a second projection extending from the second end of the cage.

15. The radial support bearing of claim 14, wherein both the first projection and the second projection each further comprise a first portion and a second portion, the first portion of the first projection extending axially from the first end portion of the cage beyond the first end face of the outer sleeve, and the second portion of the first projection extending both transversely to the first portion of the first projection and radially outwardly beyond an inner perimeter of the first end face of the outer sleeve, the first portion of the second projection extending axially from the second end portion of the cage beyond the second end face of the outer sleeve, and the second portion of the second projection extending both transversely to the first portion of the second projection and radially outwardly beyond an inner perimeter of the second end face of the outer sleeve.

16. The radial support bearing of claim 1, further comprising an annular groove extending radially outwardly from the inner surface of the outer sleeve, wherein the at least one projection extends radially outwardly from the central portion of the cage into the annular groove so that the cage is maintained in a fixed axial position with respect to the outer sleeve.

17. The radial support bearing of claim 16, wherein the central portion of the cage further comprises a plurality of elongated members, each elongated member being disposed between a pair of adjacent roller pockets, and the at least one projection extends radially outwardly from a center of corresponding elongated member.

18. The radial support bearing of claim 17, wherein the at least one projection further comprises a plurality of projections, each projection extending radially outwardly from a center of a corresponding elongated member.

19. The radial support bearing of claim 16, wherein the central portion of the cage further comprises a first plurality of elongated members, a second plurality of elongated members and an annular member, the first plurality of elongated members and the second plurality of elongated members extending from the first end portion and the second end portion of the cage to the annular member, respectively, and the at least one projection extends radially outwardly from the annular member into the annular groove.

20. The radial support bearing of claim 19, wherein the plurality of roller pockets further comprises a first plurality of roller pockets and a second plurality of roller pockets disposed on opposite sides of the annular member.

21. A radial support bearing for use with a shaft, comprising:

a substantially cylindrical outer sleeve having a first end face, a second end face, an outer surface extending therebetween, and an inner surface defining a central bore; a substantially cylindrical cage including a central portion, a first end portion extending axially from a first end of the cage, a second end portion extending axially from a second end of the cage, a plurality of roller pockets formed in the central portion of the cage, at least one projection extending radially outwardly from one of the first end portion and the second end portion the cage, and a slot formed in the one of the first end portion and the second end portion of the cage so that the slot is axially disposed between the central portion of the cage and the at least one projection; and a plurality of roller elements, each roller element being disposed in a respective roller pocket,

wherein the cage is rotatably received within the central bore of the outer sleeve so that the at least one projection extends radially outwardly beyond a perimeter of the central bore.

22. The radial support bearing of claim 21, wherein the first end portion and the second end portion of the cage have a radial width that is less than a radial width of the first end and the second end of the central portion of the cage, and the at least one projection extends radially outwardly from one of the first end portion and the second end portion of the cage.

23. The radial support bearing of claim 22, wherein the first end portion and the second end portion of the cage each comprise an annular flange.

24. The radial support bearing of claim 22, wherein the at least one projection comprises a first projection extending radially outwardly from the first end portion of the cage and a second projection extending radially outwardly from the second end portion of the cage.

Description:
NAME OF INVENTION AXIALLY SELF-POSITIONING RADIAL SUPPORT BEARING FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to support bearings. More particularly, the present invention relates to a radial support bearing assembly including an axial self-positioning feature.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Various applications which require radial support bearings may be very noise sensitive. One such example is the use of radial support bearings on an engine's balance shafts. For those applications, it is often desirable to use a radial support bearing 10, such as the example shown in Figure 1, that includes a machined outer raceway 16, rather than using a less expensive radial support bearing having a drawn outer cup.

Typically, a machined outer raceway 16 provides a more precise surface for the bearing's rollers 22, which leads to a reduction in noise produced by the radial support bearing. Special processing of the bore of the bearing's outer sleeve 14 is typically required to achieve the desired surface finish and harmonic requirements for outer raceway 16. As shown, the prior art radial support bearings used in such applications typically have an inwardly depending flanges 18 disposed at each end of their outer sleeve 14 to maintain the desired axial position of both rollers 22 and cage 20 relative to outer sleeve 14. However, flanges 18 prevent straight tool access by tools such as, but limited to, bore grinders, honers, etc, which can necessitate special tooling, equipment, additional manufacturing steps, etc., and therefore greater expense.

[0003] The present invention recognizes and addresses considerations of prior art constructions and methods.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] One embodiment of a radial support bearing for use with a shaft, in accordance with the present disclosure, includes a substantially cylindrical outer sleeve having a first end face, a second end face, an outer surface extending therebetween, and an inner surface defining a central bore. A substantially cylindrical cage includes a central portion extending between a first end portion and a second end portion, the central portion defining a plurality of roller pockets, and at least one projection extending radially outwardly from the cage. A roller element being is disposed in each roller pocket. The cage is rotatably received within the central bore of the outer sleeve so that the at least one projection extends radially outwardly beyond a perimeter of the central bore.

[0005] Another embodiment of a radial support bearing for use with a shaft defining an annular groove in its outer surface, in accordance with the present disclosure includes a substantially cylindrical outer sleeve having a first end face, a second end face, an outer surface extending therebetween, and an inner surface defining a central bore. A substantially cylindrical cage includes a central portion, a first end portion extending axially from a first end of the cage, a second end portion extending axially from a second end of the cage, a plurality of roller pockets formed in the central portion of the cage, at least one projection extending radially outwardly from one of the first end portion and the second end portion the cage, and a slot formed in the one of the first end portion and second end portion of the cage so that the slot is axially disposed between the central portion of the cage and the at least one projection. A roller element is being disposed in each of the roller pocket. The cage is rotatably received within the central bore of the outer sleeve so that the at least one projection extends radially outwardly beyond a perimeter of the central bore.

[0006] The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate one or more embodiments of the invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0007] A full and enabling disclosure of the present invention, including the best mode thereof, directed to one of ordinary skill in the art, is set forth in the specification, which makes reference to the appended drawings, in which: [0008] Figure 1 is a partial cross-sectional view of a prior art radial support bearing assembly and supported shaft; [0009] Figure 2A is a perspective view of a first embodiment of a radial support bearing assembly in accordance with the present disclosure; [0010] Figure 2B is a perspective, partially exploded view of the radial support bearing assembly as shown in Figure 2A; [0011] Figure 2C is a perspective view of the cage of the radial support bearing assembly shown in Figure 2A; [0012] Figure 2D is a partial side view of the cage of the radial support bearing assembly shown in Figure 2A; [0013] Figure 2E is a partial, top view of the cage of the radial support bearing assembly shown in Figure 2A;

[0014] Figure 3A is a perspective view of a second embodiment of a radial support bearing assembly in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0015] Figure 3B is a perspective, partially exploded view of the radial support bearing assembly shown in Figure 3A;

[0016] Figure 3C is a cross-sectional view of the radial support bearing assembly shown in Figure 3A, taken along line 3C-3C;

[0017] Figure 4A is a perspective view of a third embodiment of a radial support bearing assembly in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0018] Figure 4B is a perspective, partially exploded view of the radial support bearing assembly, as shown in Figure 4A;

[0019] Figure 5A is a perspective view of a fourth embodiment of a radial support bearing assembly in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0020] Figure 5B is a perspective, cross-sectional view of the radial support bearing assembly as shown in Figure 5A, taken along line 5B-5B;

[0021] Figure 5C is a cross-sectional view of the radial support bearing assembly as shown in Figure 5 A, taken along line 5C-5C;

[0022] Figure 5D is a partial, cross-sectional view of the radial support bearing assembly as shown in Figure 5A;

[0023] Figure 6A is a perspective view of a fifth embodiment of a radial support bearing assembly in accordance with the present disclosure; [0024] Figure 6B is a cross-sectional view of the radial support bearing assembly shown in Figure 6A, taken along line 6B-6B; and [0025] Figure 6C is a cross-sectional view of the radial support bearing assembly shown in Figure 6A, taken along line 6C-6C. [0026] Repeat use of reference characters in the present specification and drawings is intended to represent same or analogous features or elements of the invention according to the disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0027] Reference will now be made in detail to presently preferred embodiments of the invention, one or more examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Each example is provided by way of explanation, not limitation, of the invention. In fact, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the scope and spirit thereof. For instance, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment may be used on another embodiment to yield a still further embodiment. Thus, it is intended that the present invention covers such modifications and variations as come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents. [0028] Referring now to the figures, as shown in Figures 2A through 2E, an embodiment of a radial support bearing assembly 100 in accordance with the present disclosure includes a substantially-cylindrical outer sleeve 110, a substantially- cylindrical cage 130 defining a plurality of roller pockets 138, and a plurality of roller elements 160, each roller element 160 being rotatably received by a corresponding roller pocket 138. Cage 130 and roller elements 160 are rotatably received within outer sleeve 110 such that roller elements 160, more specifically, needle roller elements, are rotatably received between, and in rolling contact with, an outer raceway 116 defined by a cylindrical inner surface of a central bore 118 of outer sleeve 110, and an inner raceway defined by a cylindrical outer surface of the supported shaft (not shown), once radial support bearing assembly 100 is mounted on the shaft. Preferably, roller pockets 138 are constructed such that each roller element 160 is allowed to extend only partially beyond an innermost surface of cage 130. As such, radial support bearing assembly 100 is maintainable in a fully unitized, assembled state prior to installation on a corresponding shaft in that roller elements 160 are maintained in the radially inward direction by roller pockets 138 and the radially outward direction by outer sleeve 110.

In the embodiment shown, cage 130 includes a central portion 136 having a first end 132, a second end 134, and a plurality of elongated members 140 extending therebetween so that central portion 136 defines the plurality of roller pockets 138. Additionally, cage 130 includes a first end portion 142 extending axially outwardly from first end 132 of central portion 136, and a second end portion 144 extending axially outwardly from second end 134 of central portion 136. As shown, both first end portion 142 and second end portion 144 are formed by continuous annular flanges that extend axially from the corresponding first end 132 and second end 134 of the cage's central portion 136. Preferably, the outermost surfaces of first end portion 142 and second end portion 144 are contiguous with, or co-cylindrical, the outermost surface of central portion 136 of cage 130, and the radial width of both first end portion 142 and second end portion 144 is less than the radial width of the corresponding first end 132 and second end 134 of the cage's central portion 136. A pair of radially extending ledges 146 extends radially outwardly from the inner surface of central portion 136 of cage 130 to an inner surface of both first end portion 142 and second end portion 144. Preferably, radially extending ledges 46 are transverse to a longitudinal center axis of cage 130.

[0030] In the embodiment shown, cage 130 includes a plurality of radial projections

150 depending radially outwardly therefrom to axially retain outer sleeve 110 on central portion 136 of cage 130. More specifically, three pairs of radial projections 150 are spaced about the outer surface of cage 130, one radial projection 150 in each pair being disposed on first end portion 142 of cage 130, whereas the other radial projection 150 in each pair is disposed on second end portion 144 of cage 130. Note, however, in alternate embodiments, as few as one pair of projections may be used, as well as more than three pairs. Each radial projection includes a leading edge 152 disposed toward a distal edge of the corresponding first and second end portion 142 and 144 and a trailing edge 154 disposed toward central portion 136 of cage 130 and, therefore, the other radial projection of the pair. Leading edge 152 of each radial projection 150 defines an obtuse angle with the outer surface cage 130, whereas trailing edge 154 of each radial projection 150 is substantially perpendicular to the outer surface of cage 130. As such, leading edges 152 of radial projections 150 facilitate slidably positioning outer sleeve 110 adjacent the outer surface of cage 130, whereas trailing edges 154 of radial projections 150 facilitate retaining outer sleeve 110 in the desired axial position relative to cage 130.

[0031] Further, as best seen in Figures 2D and 2E, cage 130 includes a plurality of circumferentially extending slots 148 formed in both first end portion 142 and second end portion 144 adjacent a trailing edge 154 of a corresponding radial projection 150. Each circumferential slot 148 extends from the inner surface to the outer surface of the corresponding first and second end portion 142 and 144, and is disposed between the corresponding radial projection 150 and central portion 136 of cage 130. As best seen in Figures 2D and 2E, each circumferential slot 148 is wider than the corresponding radial projection 150 in the circumferential direction. Preferably, the width of each circumferential slot 148 is selected so that the corresponding portion of either first end portion 142 and second end portion 144 on which the slot is formed may be deflected inwardly an adequate amount to allow the corresponding radial projection 150 to pass through the central bore 118 of the outer sleeve 110 without damaging outer raceway 116. Additionally, each circumferential slot 148 is disposed at a proximal end of the corresponding first end portion 142 or second end portion 144 of cage 130, adjacent the corresponding first end 132 or second end 134 of central portion 136. As such, as outer sleeve 110 is slid axially over either first end 132 or second end 134 of cage 130, the corresponding radial projections 150 are cammed inwardly as their leading edges 152 engage the corresponding first end face 112 or second end face 114, as outer sleeve 110 is slid over the corresponding radial projections 150 and onto cage 130. Note, however, central portion 136 of cage 130 remains substantially rigid as its radial width is substantially greater than the radial width of both first end portion 142 and second end portion 144.

As best seen in Figure 2A, once assembled, trailing edges 154 of radial projections 150 are substantially parallel to, and separated by distance substantially equal to, the distance between a first end face 112 and a second end face 114 of outer sleeve 110. As such, radial projections 150 maintain the desired axial position of outer sleeve 110 relative to cage 130. By securing outer sleeve 110 axially relative to cage 130, radial projections 150 enable support bearing assembly 100 to be pre-assembled onto a corresponding shaft so that outer sleeve 110 is located in the desired position. Cage 130 is preferably formed of a polymer material with impregnated structural fiber, but may also be formed by materials such as, but not limited to, PA46, PA66, PEEK, ABS, etc.

Referring now to Figures 3A through 3C, a second embodiment of a radial support bearing assembly 200 in accordance with the present disclosure is shown. Radial support bearing assembly 200 includes a substantially-cylindrical outer sleeve 210, a substantially-cylindrical cage 230 defining a plurality of roller pockets 238, and a plurality of roller elements 260, each roller element 260 being rotatably received by a corresponding roller pocket 238. Cage 230 and roller elements 260 are rotatably received within outer sleeve 210. Roller elements 260 are rotatably received between, and in rolling contact with, an outer raceway 216 defined by a cylindrical inner surface of a central bore 218 of outer sleeve 210, and an inner raceway defined by a cylindrical outer surface of the supported shaft (not shown). Preferably, roller pockets 238 are constructed such that each roller element 260 is allowed to extend only partially beyond an innermost surface of cage 230. As such, radial support bearing assembly 200 is maintainable in a fully unitized, assembled state prior to installation on a corresponding shaft in that roller elements 260 are maintained in the radially inward direction by roller pockets 238 and the radially outward direction by outer sleeve 210. [0034] As shown, cage 230 includes a central portion 236 having a first end 232, a second end 234, and a plurality of elongated members 240 extending therebetween so that central portion 236 defines the plurality of roller pockets 238. Preferably, first end 232 and second end 234 have a planar first end face 233 and a planar second end face 235, respectively, that are both transverse to a longitudinal center axis of cage 230 and co-planar with a first end face 212 and second end face 214 of outer sleeve 210 when radial support bearing assembly is fully assembled, as discussed in greater detail below.

[0035] Further, cage 230 includes a plurality of projections 250 depending both axially and radially outwardly therefrom to axially retain outer sleeve 210 on central portion 236 of cage 230. More specifically, four pairs of projections 250 are spaced about the outer surface of cage 230, one projection 250 in each pair being disposed on first end face 233 of first end 232 of cage 230, whereas the other projection 250 in each pair is disposed on second end face 235 of second end portion 234 of cage 230. Note, however, in alternate embodiments, fewer pairs or more pairs of projections may be used. As shown in Figure 3B, each projection 250 of cage 230 extends axially outwardly from its corresponding first end face 233 or second end face 235 of cage 230 prior to assembly of the cage into outer sleeve 210. Additionally, an outermost diameter of cage 230, including roller elements 260, is slightly less than the inner diameter of the outer sleeve's central bore 218. As such, cage 230 and roller elements 260 can be inserted into central bore 218 without damaging outer raceway 216 of outer sleeve 210. Additionally, each projection 250 includes an engagement face 256 that is both substantially planar and angled with respect to the radially outermost surface of the corresponding projection 250. After cage 230 and roller elements 260 have been slidably received within central bore 218 of outer sleeve 210, each projection 250 is bent both radially outwardly and axially inwardly so that each projection 250 forms a first portion 252 that remains substantially parallel to the longitudinal center axis of cage 230, and a second portion that extends both radially outwardly from the first portion 252 and axially inwardly toward the corresponding first end face 312 or second end face 314 of outer sleeve 210, as best seen in Figure 3C. Second portion 254 of each projection 250 is bent axially inwardly until its engagement face 256 is substantially parallel to the corresponding first end face 212 or second end face 214 of cage 230. Additionally, second portions 254 of the opposed projections 250 in each pair are bent axially inwardly until their engagement faces 256 are separated by distance substantially equal to the distance between first end face 212 and second end face 214 of outer sleeve 210. As such, projections 250 maintain the desired position of outer sleeve 210 relative to cage 230. By securing outer sleeve 210 axially relative to cage 230, projections 250 enable support bearing assembly 200 to be pre-assembled onto a corresponding shaft so that outer sleeve 210 is located in the desired position. Preferably, the radially extending edges 257 that are disposed on opposite sides of each engagement face 256 in the circumferential direction are slightly rounded or chamfered to prevent "wiping" lubrication film off of first end face 212 and second end face 214 of cage 230 as it rotates with respect to outer sleeve 210. Cage 230 is preferably formed of steel, but may also be formed by materials such as, but not limited to, titanium, aluminum, brass, etc. [0037] Referring now to Figures 4 A and 4B, a third embodiment of a radial support bearing assembly 300 in accordance with the present disclosure is shown. Radial support bearing assembly 300 includes a substantially-cylindrical outer sleeve 310, a substantially-cylindrical cage 330 defining a plurality of roller pockets 338, and a plurality of roller elements 360, each roller element 360 being rotatably received by a corresponding roller pocket 338. Cage 330 and roller elements 360 are rotatably received within outer sleeve 310. Roller elements 360 are rotatably received between, and in rolling contact with, an outer raceway 316 defined by a cylindrical inner surface of a central bore 318 of outer sleeve 310, and an inner raceway defined by a cylindrical outer surface of the supported shaft (not shown). Preferably, roller pockets 338 are constructed such that each roller element 360 is allowed to extend only partially beyond an innermost surface of cage 330. As such, radial support bearing assembly 300 is maintainable in a fully unitized, assembled state prior to installation on a corresponding shaft in that roller elements 360 are maintained in the radially inward direction by roller pockets 338 and the radially outward direction by outer sleeve 310.

[0038] As shown, cage 330 includes a central portion 336 having a first end 332, a second end 334, and a plurality of elongated members 340 extending therebetween so that central portion 336 defines the plurality of roller pockets 338. Preferably, first end 332 and second end 334 have a planar first end face 333 and a planar second end face 335, respectively, that are both transverse to a longitudinal center axis of cage 330 and co-planar with a first end face 312 and second end face 314 of outer sleeve 310 when radial support bearing assembly is fully assembled, as discussed in greater detail below. [0039] Further, cage 330 includes a plurality of projections 350 depending both axially and radially outwardly therefrom to axially retain outer sleeve 310 on central portion 336 of cage 330. More specifically, four pairs of projections 350 are spaced about the outer surface of cage 330, one projection 350 in each pair being disposed on first end face 333 of first end 332 of cage 330, whereas the other projection 350 in each pair is disposed on second end face 335 of second end portion 334 of cage 330. Note, however, in alternate embodiments, fewer pairs or more pairs of projections may be used. As shown in Figure 4B, each projection 350 of cage 330 extends axially outwardly from its corresponding first end face 333 or second end face 335 of cage 330 prior to assembly of the cage into outer sleeve 310. As well, each projection 350 includes an axially extending first portion 352 and a circumferentially extending second portion 354 disposed at its distal end. An outermost diameter of cage 330, including roller elements 360, is slightly less than the inner diameter of the outer sleeve's central bore 318. As such, cage 330 and roller elements 360 can be inserted into central bore 318 without damaging outer raceway 316 of outer sleeve 310.

[0040] After cage 330 and roller elements 360 have been slidably received within central bore 318 of outer sleeve 310, circumferential second portion 354 of each projection 350 is bent radially outwardly. Specifically, first and second portions of each second portion 354 extend circumferentially in opposing directions from the distal end of the projection's first portion 352. As shown in Figure 4A, the first and second portions of each projection's second portion 354 are bent radially outwardly until at least the distal end of each extends radially outwardly beyond the inner perimeter of the corresponding first end face 333 or second end face 335. Additionally, second portions 354 of the opposed projections 350 in each pair are separated by distance substantially equal to the distance between first end face 312 and second end face 314 of outer sleeve 310. As such, projections 350 maintain the desired position of outer sleeve 310 relative to cage 330. By securing outer sleeve 310 axially relative to cage 330, projections 350 enable support bearing assembly 300 to be pre-assembled onto a corresponding shaft so that outer sleeve 310 is located in the desired position. Cage 330 is preferably formed of steel, but may also be formed by materials such as, but not limited to, titanium, aluminum, brass, etc.

Referring now to Figures 5A through 5E, a fourth embodiment of a radial support bearing assembly 400 in accordance with the present disclosure is show. Radial support bearing assembly 400 includes a substantially-cylindrical outer sleeve 410, a substantially-cylindrical cage 430 defining a plurality of roller pockets 438, and a plurality of roller elements 460, each roller element 460 being rotatably received by a corresponding roller pocket 438. Cage 430 and roller elements 460 are rotatably received within outer sleeve 410. Roller elements 460 are rotatably received between, and in rolling contact with, an outer raceway 416 defined by a cylindrical inner surface of a central bore 418 of outer sleeve 410, and an inner raceway defined by a cylindrical outer surface of the supported shaft (not shown). Preferably, roller pockets 438 are constructed such that each roller element 460 is allowed to extend only partially beyond an inner surface of cage 430. As such, radial support bearing assembly 400 is maintainable in a fully unitized, assembled state prior to installation on a corresponding shaft in that roller elements 460 are maintained in the radially inward direction by roller pockets 438 and the radially outward direction by outer sleeve 410. [0042] As shown, cage 430 includes a first end 432, a second end 434, and a plurality of elongated members 440 extending therebetween, thereby defining the plurality of roller pockets 438. Additionally, cage 430 includes a plurality of radial projections 450 depending radially outwardly therefrom to axially retain outer sleeve 410 on cage 430. More specifically, each radial projection 450 extends radially outwardly from a central portion of a corresponding elongated member 440, as best seen in Figure 5B. Note, however, in alternate embodiments, a radial projection 450 is not disposed on each elongated member 44. For example, as few as two radial preparations may be used. As shown, each radial projection 450 has a distal end that extends outwardly beyond an outermost surface of cage 430 and into an annular groove 420 that extends radially outwardly from outer race 416 of outer sleeve 410, as best seen in Figures 5C and 5D. As shown, annular groove 420 of outer sleeve 410 bisects outer raceway 416 into a first portion 416a and a second portion 416b which each roller element 460 spans.

[0043] Still referring to Figures 5C and 5D, the distal ends of each projection 450 may have slightly rounded corners 450a to facilitate insertion of cage 430 and roller elements 460 into central bore 418 of outer sleeve 410. Additionally, each elongated member includes a recess 441 disposed on axially opposed sides of the corresponding projection 450 to facilitate the deflection of each elongated member 440 radially inwardly as cage 430 is inserted into central bore 418. As such, as outer sleeve 410 is slid over either first end 432 or second end 434 of cage 430, radial projections 450 are cammed inwardly as outer sleeve 410 slides over the projections.

[0044] Once assembled, radial projections 450 maintain the desired axial position of outer sleeve 410 relative to cage 430. By securing outer sleeve 410 axially relative to cage 430, radial projections 450 enable support bearing assembly 400 to be pre- assembled onto a corresponding shaft so that outer sleeve 410 is located in the desired position. Cage 430 is preferably formed of a polymer material impregnated with structural fiber, but may also be formed by materials such as, but not limited to, PA46, PA66, PEEK, ABS, etc.

Referring now to Figures 6A through 6C, a fifth embodiment of a radial support bearing assembly 500 in accordance with the present disclosure is shown. Radial support bearing assembly 500 includes a substantially-cylindrical outer sleeve 510, a substantially-cylindrical cage 530 defining a plurality of roller pockets 538a and 538b, and a plurality of roller elements 560a and 560b, each roller element 560a and 560b being rotatably received by a corresponding roller pocket 538a and 538b, respectively, as discussed in greater detail below. Cage 530 and roller elements 560a and 560b are rotatably received within outer sleeve 410. Roller elements 560a and 560b are rotatably received between, and in rolling contact with, an outer raceway 516 defined by a cylindrical inner surface of a central bore 518 of outer sleeve 510, and an inner raceway defined by a cylindrical outer surface of the supported shaft (not shown). Preferably, roller pockets 538a and 538b are constructed such that each roller element 560a and 560b is allowed to extend only partially beyond an inner surface of cage 530. As such, radial support bearing assembly 500 is maintainable in a fully unitized, assembled state prior to installation on a corresponding shaft in that roller elements 560a and 560b are maintained in the radially inward direction by roller pockets 538a and 538b and the radially outward direction by outer sleeve 510. [0046] As shown, cage 530 includes a first end 532, a second end 534, a plurality of elongated members 540 extending therebetween, and an annular member 542 connecting the center portions of the plurality of elongated members 540, thereby separating the plurality of roller pockets into a first set of roller pockets 538a and a second set of roller pockets 538b that are axially separated by annular member 542. Additionally, cage 530 includes a plurality of radial projections 550 depending radially outwardly therefrom to axially retain outer sleeve 510 on cage 530. More specifically, these equally spaced radial projections 550 extend radially outwardly from annular member 542 of cage 530, as best seen in Figure 6B. Note, however, in alternate embodiments, fewer or more than three radial projections 550 may be used. As shown, each radial projection 550 has a distal end that extends outwardly beyond an outermost surface of cage 530 and into an annular groove 520 that extends radially outwardly from outer race 516 of outer sleeve 510, as best seen in Figures 6B and 6C. As shown, annular groove 520 of outer sleeve 510 bisects outer raceway 516 into a first portion 516a and a second portion 516b. As such, first roller elements 560a ride on first raceway portion 516a and second roller elements 560b ride on second raceway portion 516b. As noted above, cage 530 defines first set of roller pockets 538a and second set of roller pockets 538b, each first roller pocket 538a rotatably receiving one of a first set of roller elements 560a, and each second roller pocket 538b rotatably receiving one of a second set of roller elements 560b.

[0047] Still referring to Figures 6B and 6C, the distal ends of each projection 550 may have slightly rounded corners 550a to facilitate insertion of cage 530 and roller elements 560a and 560b into central bore 518 of outer sleeve 510. Additionally, a recess 541 is disposed on each axially opposed side of each projection 550 to facilitate the deflection of each radial projection 550 inwardly as cage 530 is inserted into central bore 518. As such, as outer sleeve 510 is slid over either first end 532 or second end 534 of cage 530, radial projections 550 are cammed inwardly as outer sleeve 510 slides over the projections.

[0048] Once assembled, radial projections 550 maintain the desired axial position of outer sleeve 510 relative to cage 530. By securing outer sleeve 510 axially relative to cage 530, radial projections 550 enable support bearing assembly 500 to be pre- assembled onto a corresponding shaft so that outer sleeve 510 is located in the desired position. Cage 530 is preferably formed of a polymer material impregnated with structural fiber, but may also be formed by materials such as, but not limited to, PA46, PA66, PEEK, ABS, etc.

[0049] While one or more preferred embodiments of the invention are described above, it should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the scope and spirit thereof. It is intended that the present invention cover such modifications and variations as come within the scope and spirit of the appended claims and their equivalents.