The difference between bushings and sliding bearings
21 April 2024

The difference between bushings and sliding bearings

Bushings and sliding bearings are actually very similar! In fact, a bushing is a type of sliding bearing.

Bushings and sliding bearings are both crucial components in reducing friction and guiding movement between parts in machinery. While they share this core function, some key distinctions exist between them.


Is a specific type of bearing, typically a simple, hollow cylinder made from materials like metal, plastic, or composite materials. It fits around a rotating or sliding shaft, providing a wear surface and reducing friction. Bushings can also be used to center components or isolate vibrations.
Sliding Bearing
Also called Plain Bearing. Is a broader category encompassing various bearing designs where the two parts in contact slide directly against each other. This sliding friction creates some energy loss, but sliding bearings offer advantages like simplicity and low noise in certain applications.

Design and Construction

Bushings are generally simpler in design. They are often a single piece, sleeve-shaped, with a smooth inner diameter to accommodate the shaft and an outer diameter for press-fitting into a housing. Some variations may have grooves or pockets for lubrication.

Sliding bearings can be more diverse in design. They can be flanged for better positioning, have split construction for easier assembly, or incorporate features like grooves or channels to improve lubrication and distribute load more evenly.



Bushings can be made from various materials depending on the application. Common choices include:

  • Metals: Bronze, steel, aluminum (often with a lubricating layer)
  • Plastics: Nylon, PTFE (Teflon)
  • Composite Materials: Combinations of materials like metal-polymer composites for improved wear resistance and self-lubrication.

Sliding Bearings

Similar to bushings, sliding bearings utilize various materials depending on the load, speed, and environmental conditions. They can also incorporate additional elements like liners or coatings for enhanced performance.



Bushings are widely used due to their simplicity and affordability. Typical applications include:

  • Low-speed, moderate load applications like machinery linkages, suspension components, and drill jigs.
  • Applications requiring noise reduction, such as in fans and pumps.
  • As wear surfaces for shafts or pivots.

Sliding Bearings

Sliding bearings find use in a broader range of applications, including:

  • High-load, slow-speed applications like internal combustion engines (crankshafts, connecting rods).
  • Reciprocating motion applications like pistons and linear guides.
  • Applications where compactness is crucial, as they offer a smaller footprint compared to rolling-element bearings.

In conclusion, bushings are a specific type of sliding bearing, offering a simple and cost-effective solution for many applications. They excel in low-speed, moderate load scenarios and noise reduction. However, for higher speeds or demanding environments, other types of sliding bearings with more complex designs may be necessary.

All bushings are sliding bearings, but not all sliding bearings are bushings.

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