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The Rolamite bearing has very little friction

Rolamite is a technology for very low friction bearings developed by Sandia National Laboratories in the 1960s.


Invented by Sandia engineer Donald F. Wilkes and patented by him on June 24, 1969,[1] these devices use a stressed metal band and counter-rotating rollers within an enclosure to create a linear bearing device that loses very little energy to friction. One source claims it is the only basic mechanical invention of the 20th century.[2] Tests by Sandia indicated that Rolamite mechanisms demonstrated friction coefficients as low as 0.0005, an order of magnitude better than ball bearings at the time.

A video of a rolamite in operation, to serve as a warhead safety-switch accelerometer, is available.[3]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Wilkes, Donald F. (June 24, 1969). "US Patent #3,452,175: Roller-Band Devices". Rex Research. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  2. ^ Norman, Carlisle (February 1968). "The Amazing Rolamite – It Opens the Door for 1000 Inventions". Popular Mechanics. 
  3. ^ Youtube. Declassified NUCLEAR WEAPONs Safety Control & Survivability Pt 2. 1h23m20s. Alternatively, Always/Never: The Quest for Safety, Control, and Survivability - Part 2 19.30, released by Sandia Labs.]
  • Nelson, Robert A. "Rolamite". Rex Research. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  • Bishop,James E., (11/27/1973). "Remember the Rolamite? World's 27th-and Newest-'Elementary Mechanism' Still Works, but It Hasn't Revolutionized Technology" The Wall Street Journal Page 46.


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