How to Identify and Avoid Buying Fake Bearings

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No procurement or engineering team will fall into the trap of buying fake bearings when a company’s reputation is at stake. Every year, NSK invests a lot of money to identify and prosecute counterfeiters, but know that the best way to stop these fake businesses is to stop buying counterfeit products. With this in mind, informing customers how to identify and avoid buying counterfeit bearings is of great value to all stakeholders.


Both bearing products are counterfeit products with incorrect packaging (left) and no markings (right)

Most end users who receive counterfeit bearings believe they have purchased the genuine product, and due to a lack of expertise in the technology, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between a genuine and fake product upon delivery. Therefore, users rely entirely on their supply chain to develop the necessary quality control procedures, thus avoiding the arrival of counterfeit bearings.

Purchased from an authorized NSK

Buying from an authorized NSK source is some way of guaranteeing the purchase of genuine bearings. When purchasing high-quality bearings from an authorized distributor or dealer, users can be sure that strict quality assurance procedures are in place, as this is one of many strict control procedures that distributors must follow in order to gain NSK approval.

To verify that an approved source is used, visit the NSK website, where a full list of authorized distributors can be found. Alternatively, call NSK to confirm the status of the distributor.


Despite the similarity in appearance, the real (left) and fake (right) differ in some areas, including indentations on the rollers

Another potential vulnerability in counterfeit products is the use of subcontractors to perform repairs on assets such as electric motors, pumps, gearboxes and fans. Dangers (including premature failures) are sometimes not easily recognized by subcontractors, and it is easy to inadvertently install fake bearings. Therefore, each subcontractor should be audited to ensure that they are aware of the risks of imitation products and have appropriate controls in place to prevent a failed acquisition.

If there is any doubt about the authenticity of the bearing, some basic checks can help you identify NSK as the original manufacturer. First, check the mark. No markings are bearings that are clearly fake. If there are markings, are they similar to standard manufacturer markings, or are they in a different area of the bearing in its normal position? Both may point to illegal manufacturing.

Insufficient quality standards

Poor quality is another factor that can help detect fraud. Close-up inspection of rolling elements and raceways will provide key indicators such as rough machining and abnormal roll appearance. NSK’s manufacturing processes have been refined over decades, combined with stringent quality procedures, meaning there is zero potential for inferior products.


The photo on the left shows a machined brass cage with handle pockets, while the photo on the right shows a fake two-piece cage with rivets. Differences in cages can lead to bearing failure

Another benefit of identifying counterfeit bearings is packaging. First, the user should check that the bearing has been packaged in the appropriate shipping material. Insufficient packaging or poor quality means the bearings were not supplied by NSK. Also, check the pallet configuration and container load and compare the manufacturer’s country with the shipping country. The quality of the crates should also be checked.

After removing the outer packaging, observe the bearing housing. Is the carton similar to other packaging received before? Be sure to check that the carton is properly marked and that the logo is genuine.

simple solution

Of course, purchasing from trusted sources such as NSK Authorized Distributors will not require these checks. NSK Authorized Distributors are carefully selected and carefully monitored, they are professional, knowledgeable and service oriented. With large inventories of NSK and RHP products and unrestricted access across the entire product range, these distributors can supply original bearings quickly and reliably. Additionally, everything from inventory management, product and application knowledge to engineering advice and support based on a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) methodology is guaranteed.

Attention NSK Authorized Distributor Logo
Every NSK Authorized Distributor is part of a three-way relationship that gives you peace of mind built on global and local alliances with complete confidence. Purchasing from these distributors ensures that users receive genuine, high-quality NSK bearings that provide the highest level of performance.