Sven Gustaf Wingqvist

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Sven Wingqvist around 1926
Wingqvist bearing
Sven Wingquist - oil on canvas by Oskar Spitzmüller, Vienna

Sven Gustaf Wingqvist (10 December 1876 – 17 April 1953) was a Swedish engineer, inventor and industrialist, and one of the founders of Svenska Kullagerfabriken (SKF), one of the world's leading ball bearing and roller bearing makers. Sven Wingqvist invented the multi-row self-aligning ball bearing in 1907.


  • 1876: Born December 10 in Kumla Municipality south of Örebro, Sweden. Son of the railway station inspector at Hallsberg S. D. Wingqvist and Anna Lundberg.
  • 1894: Graduated from Rudbecksskolan in Örebro (Örebro Technical Elementary School).
  • 1899: Employed as operating engineer at Gamlestadens Textile Industry in Göteborg where he worked many years to find a solution to the problems with frequent break downs in the ball bearings for the main drive shafts. This was caused by the ground conditions with lots of clay that the factory was built on and the shaft bearing supports moved some fractions of millimeters from time to time, hardly measurable, inducing enormous extra forces in the "stiff" bearings that was available at that time. Wingqvist spent more and more time on the development of bearings in general, collecting all sorts of technical achievements and new ideas that was presented continuously on the ball bearing concepts around Europe. In particular he carefully studied the report presented in 1902 by professor Richard Stribeck[1] working at the Institute of Technology in Dresden, Germany, where he had compared ball bearings versus plain bearings from a scientific point of view. Wingqvist soon realized that the ball bearing techniques had a future and that there was room for innovations. On his initiative a small workshop was set up within the premises of Gamlestadens factory where they could carry out tests with different designs and steel materials. In 1906 he was granted a patent for a Single-row self-aligning ball bearing (Swedish patent reg. No. 24160) but this type of bearing had the disadvantage that it could not stand very much axial loads. His work continued in order to find the solution for a self-aligning bearing that also could carry some axial loads.
  • 1907: On the initiative of Sven Wingqvist and the owners of Gamlestadens Textile Industry, SKF was founded February 16, at first as a subsidiary company to Gamlestadens Textile Industry. He was appointed the managing director as well as technical manager. Axel Carlander, son of one of the owners of Gamlestadens Textile Industry, was appointed CEO for SKF. (Axel Carlander held the position as CEO for SKF until 1937). May 21: SKF filed the patent application at the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PRV) for a Multi-row self-aligning radial ball bearing. Patent is granted June 6 with patent reg. No. 25406. Inventor: S.G. Wingqvist.[2] In the patent application a double-row as well as a triple-row ball bearing is described. Within the same period of time, patent applications is sent out by SKF to 10 different countries, among them France, Germany, England and the United States and patent is granted in all countries within a short time. The door was now open for the worldwide expansion. After the new factory had been built in Göteborg, SKF sales companies as well as new manufacturing plants were built up in a lot of countries around the world. The first SKF manufacturing plant outside Sweden was set up in Luton, England 1911.
  • 1919: He marries Hildur Hult (1892–1963).[3]
  • 1919–1932: Wingqvist works as an independent consulting engineer and as part-time CEO for SKF.
  • 1938–1953: CEO for SKF.
  • 1933–38: Managing director for AB Bofors.
  • 1938–46: CEO for AB Bofors.
  • 1941–53: CEO for the company Svenska Flygmotor AB.

Some of Sven Wingqvist's Swedish patents (Sweden reg. No.)[edit]

  • 25406 Multi-row self-aligning radial ball bearing, 1907
  • 26266 Self-aligning ball bearing for axial loads, 1908
  • 27397 Tool for precision measurements, 1908
  • 31707 2-row spherical roller bearing, 1910
  • 33901 Ball holder device, Wingqvist and H. Olsson, 1910
  • 57197 Roller bearing with pressure flange, Wingqvist and N.A. Palmgren, 1919
  • 78223 Device for 2-row roller bearings, 1931
  • (list is not complete)

Image gallery[edit]



  1. ^ Richard Stribeck (1861–1950), a German scientist. The Stribeck curve is named after him
  2. ^ "Anordning vid kullager. Klass 40:b. Patent i Sverige från den 6 juni 1907.", Patent nr 25406, Beskrivning offentliggjord af Kungl. Patent- och Registreringsverket.
  3. ^ Vingqvist, Herman: Släkten Wingqvist från Södra Ving jämte upptecknarens antavla, Skara 1936. p. 20.


  • Vingqvist, Herman: Släkten Wingqvist från Södra Ving jämte upptecknarens antavla, Skara 1936. p. 20.
  • SKF - The History of a Swedish Export Industry, 1907–1957 by Birger Steckzén, 1957. Published by SKF, 1957.
  • "The history of SKF, 1977, Sv. kullagerfabriken, Göteborg, 1977.
  • "SKF - a global story: 1907–2007", Martin Fritz, Birgit Karlsson; translated by Linda Schenck, Informationsförlaget, Stockholm, 2006. ISBN 978-91-7736-576-1