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AIN Dubai – Mega bearings for largest ferris wheel

Challenge: traditional roller bearings would not meet all demands

Solution: development of enormous bearings without balls or rollers

The principal, the government of the United Arab Emirates decided they wished to realise the largest Ferris wheel in the world on the new, man-made, Bluewaters island. Hyundai was awarded the contract. The scope was seriously ambitious: besides the size and the contractual obligation to build ‘the largest’, a 60 year life time and minimal maintenance requirements were demanded.

Hyundai contracted KCI of Schiedam, the Netherlands, for the engineering of the wheel. KCI in turn asked DRIE-D to design the bearings in the heart of the wheel, because of our expertise.

Together the team of engineers made the translation from the general demands from the contract into the specific bearing requirements. They needed to be inspectable, replaceable, durable, cost efficient, maintenance free and absolutely fail safe. Traditional roller bearings simply do not offer such a set or properties and something new needed to be created.

Elements from D-glide® in combination with steel were developed. Envision them as ‘bearing tiles’ to be fitted inside the hub. A set of these tiles together form a bearing ring, per hub two of these bearing rings are fitted. Four rings carry the full weight of the wheel and allow it to revolve around the hollow shaft or spindle. On the side of each hub there is another set of bearing tiles, preventing the hubs from sliding off the spindle. Together this forms the bearing system of the wheel.

The innovative design of mega bearings from D-glide® bearing tiles instead of roller bearings, ensures 60 years of uncomplicatedly doing its rounds and helps to establish this record size wheel safely and reliably.

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