Babbitt metal

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.

Babbitt metal

Babbitt metal, an antifriction metal first produced by Isaac Babbitt in 1839. In present-day usage the term is applied to a whole class of silver-white bearing metals, or “white metals.” These alloys usually consist of relatively hard crystals embedded in a softer matrix, a structure important for machine bearings. They are composed primarily of tin, copper, and antimony, with traces of other metals added in some cases and lead substituted for tin in others.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Babbitt Metal


an antifriction alloy based on tin or lead which is designed for lining bearings. Some types of babbitt metal contain antimony, copper, nickel, arsenic, cadmium, tellurium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and so on.

Babbitt metal was invented in 1839 by I. Babbitt of the USA. Its high antifriction properties are due to its special heterogeneous structure, which is characterized by the presence of hard particles in the soft plastic base of the alloy. Babbitt metal has a low melting point (300° to 440° C) and good run-in qualities.

Babbitt metals based on tin are used for special-purpose bearings where improved toughness and a minimal coefficient of friction are required of the antifriction material. Compared with the lead-based babbitt metals, the tin-based metal has higher corrosion and wear resistance and thermal conductivity, as well as a lower linear expansion coefficient.

Lead-based babbitt metals can operate at a higher bearing temperature than the tin-based varieties. The former are utilized for lining the bearings of automobile, tractor, and milling-machine engines. Calcium plumbate babbitt metals are used to line the bearings of rolling stock and rail transport.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

babbitt metal

[′bab·ət ‚med·əl]
Any of the white alloys composed primarily of tin or lead and of lesser amounts of antimony, copper, and perhaps other metals, and used for bearings.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.