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Chief Executive Officer
HQ Phone:  (800) 900-2236
Direct Phone: (760) ***-****
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Palm Springs, California,92262
We are manufacturer/suppliers of rotary and linear ball bearings with specialty seal, coating and/or lubrication characteristics. In pursuit of a no-lube ball bearing, we have developed a self lubricating PTFE based retainer. Combining these two developments... more.
Champion Bearings Contact List
Richard KayCEO RKay@championbearings.com
In Hub Performance By Richard Kay
Richard Kay (left), CEO and Engineer from Champion Bearing congratulates MIT team captain and driver Goro Tamal on his victory. Richard Kay, CEO and design engineer for Champion Bearing congratulated Goro Tamai of MIT on his victory.
Champion Bearing - About the CEO
Richard D. Kay, CEO of Champion Bearings, Inc. is a graduate of Michigan Technological University (BSME), and has a degree from M.I.T. Associate in science.
He worked as an engineer-in-training at Detroit Diesel Engine Division from 1962 until 1969 when he was hired by Mattel Toy Co. in Hawthorne, California. He worked there as Manager of the Development Test Laboratories from 1969 until 1976. He is the founder and CEO of Champion Ball Bearings, Inc. from 1976 to present. He is the father of three children and a resident of Palm Springs California since 1979.
Bearings on JobShop.com
"We can make bearings that fit into a wrist watch, on up to bearings that are 2-½ feet in diameter that are used in giant electricity-generating windmills," says Richard Kay, Champion Bearings CEO and chief engineer.
"What we typically produce are custom-made, ceramic, specialty ball bearings for high-tech applications. Our bearings can be used for harsh environments, for high-speed applications, machinery with high loads, high- and low-temperature applications, and for machinery used in a vacuum. We also do a lot of work for other bearing manufacturers that can't handle the more precision work with special requirements." Champion Bearings has been in the forefront of bearing technology since the company's inception in 1979, when Richard Kay, a graduate of Michigan Tech University, started the company in Palm Springs. Much of his approach to bearing manufacturing has to do with the theories of tribology, the science of friction, wear, and lubrication, a discipline in which he earned an honorary degree from MIT. Kay believes that ceramic bearings can even play a part in reducing the use of fossil fuels in the industrial sector. "If manufacturers in the U.S. converted from steel bearings to ceramic bearings in just one size of bearing, I feel the country could save over one million barrels of oil per year," says Kay. "To back up my theory, I went to the Federal Trade Commission to see how many metal ball bearings are sold in the U.S. in one year. They told me it was 600,000,000. If they are all ¼-inch or ½-inch, I figure it would take one million barrels of oil to lubricate them." Kay explains that hydrocarbon lubricants smooth out the surface of metal bearings, which have peaks and valleys that are visible under a microscope. Hydrocarbon or fluorocarbon lubricants are often used to fill in the valleys to keep the peaks from touching. But he believes there's a better way of handling micro-weld adhesion. "The area of contact is so miniscule that, for example, a force of ten pounds on the bearing generates a pressure of over a million pounds per square inch," Kay theorizes. In one test that Kay performed, he tested a flywheel with a load using ceramic bearings and races, which are mounted on a trunnion. He brought the flywheel up to 7,000 rpm, and then measured the coast down time. "It took 350 seconds for it to stop rotating," Kay maintained. "When I did this with metal bearings and races with oil and grease on them, they slowed down in less than 60 seconds. So this is a huge amount of torque and energy being absorbed by the system." Ion Deposition Process Provides Dry Film Lubrication Richard Kay and his small staff do all of the designing, engineering, and prototype manufacturing in his small plant in Palm Springs, using mostly CNC milling machines and lathes. About four years ago, Kay was asked to make a ceramic ball bearing component for an electric motor that goes into a mechanical heart. "Six people are walking around on the east coast today-completely well-using the heart that has our bearings inside it," Kay stated proudly. "We do a lot of work for Maxum Motors, both AC and DC motors, and with Optical Coating Laboratories Inc., (OCLI), a company that makes optical lenses, many of which are used in vacuum chambers," says Kay. "In one instance, a customer had some seals that were leaking oil, so we added Teflon seals to the bearing," Kay explained. "We also make angular [contact] ball bearings with a Teflon seal." Design and engineering is a key element for precision, high-tech bearing applications. When designing a new bearing, Kay first asks his client about the environmental conditions in which the bearing will be used. Is the environment hot or cold? In one test, Kay took a ¼-inch diameter ceramic ball bearing, put it on a steel plate, and hit it with a 35-pound sledge hammer. He said he could not break it or even put a scratch on it. Engineered plastics, such as PEEK, Teflon, and Vespel are also used extensively at Champion. The company has recently developed a Teflon molybdenum disulfide material suitable for retainers. Kay recently talked to ten engineers at OCLI. He convinced them to use a zirconia ceramic for a particular bearing application. "The thermal expansion characteristics of zirconia are almost identical to their stainless steel housings," Kay explained.
Richard Kay, Sr.
CEO Champion Bearings Inc.
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University of North Carolina's Gillings School of Global Public Health