Heavy Duty VS Regular Drawer Slides

What’s the Difference?

When shopping for drawer slides on our product page, you’ll see that they are two types of drawer slides available: Industrial Heavy Duty Drawer Slides and Regular Drawer Slides

 Heavy Duty & Regular Drawer Slides

How do you know when to choose one over the other? Which one do you need? This blog post will aim to answer those questions and show off the key differences between these two products. If you’re not sure whether your project needs drawer slides or not, check out this Drawer Slides 101 blog to find out.

Drawer Slide Comparison

The table below shows the specifications of both the Industrial Heavy Duty Drawer Slides and Regular Drawer Slides. These specifications can be found on their product page. 

Drawer Slide Product Table

Using this table for a quick comparison, it is easy to see some situations when you’ll need to use the heavy duty drawer slides over the regular drawer slides. Is the weight on one of your drawer slides over 400lbs? You’ll need to use a heavy duty drawer slide. Do you need an extension length of 60”? You’ll need to use a heavy duty drawer slide. But what if your needs are met by both products, why would you want to use a heavy duty drawer slide and when is it appropriate to do so? There is one key difference between these drawer slide that is implied by the name “Heavy Duty”, which is durability.

Key Difference: Durability

As the name “Heavy Duty” implies the heavy duty drawer slides are more durable than your regular drawer slides. But what does this mean and what are the physical differences that make the heavy duty drawer slides more durable? Durability generally refers to a product’s life span and its ability to work in harsh conditions. So why are heavy duty drawer slides more durable? Well firstly, when we compare the two drawer slides next to each other, the size difference between the two is obvious. This difference will help the heavy duty drawer slide last longer in applications where corrosion or rust is a concern. While these slides are made of the same material, the increase thickness in the heavy duty slides will allow it to last longer in harsher conditions as there is more material that will need to rust away before failure.

drawer slide Comparisondrawer slide Comparison

Aside: Stainless steel ball bearings are much more resistant to rust than cold rolled steel, which is used on the members of the drawer slides. You should expect the members to rust before the ball bearings.

The other area of concern for durability of the drawer slides is the life expectancy of the ball bearings. The ball bearings allow for the smooth movement of each member and transfers the load of each member to the other. The failure of a ball bearing in normal use conditions is typically associated with adhesive wear. Adhesive wear occurs as two materials slide pass each other causing the removal of material [1].

drawer slide Ball Bearing Comparison

The life expectancy of the ball bearing is defined by the ISO 281 as the formula below. The elements are P, which is the dynamic load on one ball bearing; C, which is the basic dynamic load rating of the ball bearing; and e, which is a variable depending on the style of bearing (for ball bearings it is equal to 3). C is a value that is dependent on the material and size of the ball bearing. For our purposes, the larger ball bearings of the heavy duty drawer slide will result in a higher basic dynamic load rating as both ball bearings are made of the same material. This means for the same given load; the ball bearings of the heavy duty drawer slides will last longer than the regular drawer slides. You will also notice that the life expectancy of the ball bearing is given in terms of revolutions, which means the life of the ball bearing is also dependent on the speed and frequency of use.
ISO 281 drawer slide Bearing Life Expectancy

Ball bearings can also fail if outside material contaminates the area around the ball bearing. If contaminants get into the sliding area, it will increase the effect of adhesive wear and shorten the life expectancy of the ball bearing. The heavy duty drawer slides help reduce this risk by having a larger bearing retainer compared to the regular drawer slides. The bearing retainer is used to hold the ball bearings in place. But with the larger bearing retainer of the heavy duty drawer slides, it also helps to push away debris from the ball bearings which protects them and keeps the sliding area clean.

How to Decide?

While the heavy duty drawer slides are more durable than the regular drawer slides, you don’t always need that extra durability and it will depend on your application. Are you using your drawer slides outside or where they are exposed to the elements and/or debris? You’ll want to use the heavy duty drawer slides. Are you using your drawer slides in high load and high frequency applications? You’ll want heavy duty drawer slides. But if you plan to use your drawer slides inside, the regular drawer slides are suitable. Generally, you’ll want heavy duty drawer slides in any outdoor application, like with RVs or trailers, and in industrial environments, where there are heavy loads and airborne debris. While typically, your regular drawer slides are great in household applications where there is lower frequency of use and cleaner environments, like kitchen cabinets and desk drawers.

  1. Boughton, P. (2015, April). Wear of rolling bearings: signs, causes and remedies. Retrieved From:https://www.engineerlive.com/content/wear-rolling-bearings-signs-causes-and-remedies
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