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HQ 965613

September 19, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965613 AML


TARIFF Nos.: 8482.10.50; 8482.99.35

Mr. Michael A. Johnson
Rodriguez O'Donnell Fuerst Gonzalez & Williams 20 North Wacker Drive
Suite 1416
Chicago, IL 60606

RE: Linear Motion Blocks

Dear Mr. Johnson:

This in reply to your letter, dated March 7, 2002, to the Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, on behalf of THK America, Inc., requesting the tariff classification of linear motion blocks pursuant to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your request was forwarded to this office for reply. Photocopies of descriptive literature and a catalog were provided for our examination.


You describe the articles as linear motion blocks (“LMBs”) that are specially engineered devices containing small recirculating bearing balls which move linearly along rails in linear motion guides (“LMG”) and recirculate within the LMB. The articles are depicted and explained in the THK Co., Ltd., catalog provided with the ruling request. The LMBs are used in industrial applications for repetitive movement of equipment and tools by affixing the tool, etc. to the LMB (and LMG) and in turn the guide rail thereby enabling the tool to be moved along the rail as needed in preparation for or during operation.

You state that tariff classification of the LMGs was the subject of the opinion of the Court in THK America, Inc. v. United States, 17 CIT 1169, 837 F. Supp. 427 (1993). However, you state that technical advancement in the design and the production of the articles since THK was decided requires that
the LMBs be classified under heading 8483, HTSUS, which provides for, among other things, housed bearings incorporating ball or roller bearings.


Whether the linear motion blocks (“LMBs”) are classifiable under subheading 8482.10.50, HTSUS, which provides for other ball or roller bearings; or under subheading 8482.99.35, HTSUS, which provides for parts of ball or roller bearings; or under subheading 8483.30.00, HTSUS, which provides for, among other things, bearing housings?


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

8482 Ball or roller bearings, and parts thereof:
8482.10 Ball bearings:
8482.10.50 Other:
8482.10.5012 Linear bearings
8482.99 Other:
Inner or outer rings or races:
8482.99.05 For ball bearings.
8482.99.35 Parts of ball bearings
(including parts of ball bearings with integral shafts).
8483 Transmission shafts (including camshafts and crankshafts) and cranks; bearing housings, housed bearings and plain shaft bearings; gears and gearing; ball or roller screws; gear boxes and other speed changers, including torque converters; flywheels and pulleys, including pulley blocks; clutches and shaft couplings (including universal joints); parts thereof: 8483.30 Bearing housings; plain shaft bearings.

Whether the articles are classified as linear bearings under heading 8482, HTSUS, or as housed bearings under heading 8483, HTSUS, the articles will be classified in Chapter 84, which provides for, inter alia, machinery and mechanical appliances and parts thereof. Section XVI (in which Chapter 84 is found), note 2,

HTSUS, states that:

[s]ubject to note 1 to this section, note 1 to chapter 84 and to note 1 to chapter 85, parts of machines (not being parts of the articles of heading 8484, 8544, 8545, 8546 or 8547) are to be classified according to the following rules:

(a) Parts which are goods included in any of the headings of chapters 84 and 85 (other than headings 8485 and 8548) are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings;

(b) Other parts, if suitable for use solely or principally with a particular kind of machine, or with a number of machines of the same heading (including a machine of heading 8479 or 8543) are to be classified with the machines of that kind. However, parts which are equally suitable for use principally with the goods of headings 8517 and 8525 to 8528 are to be classified in heading 8517;

(c) All other parts are to be classified in heading 8485 or 8548.

Subject to certain exceptions not relevant here, goods that are identifiable parts of machines or apparatus of Chapter 84 or Chapter 85 are classifiable in accordance with Section XVI, Note 2, HTSUS. Nidec Corporation v. United States, 861 F. Supp. 136, aff'd, 68 F. 3d 1333 (1995). Parts, which are goods included in any of the headings of Chapters 84 and 85, are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings. See Note 2(a). Other parts, if suitable for use solely or principally with a particular machine, or with a number of machines of the same heading, are to be classified with the machines of that kind. See Note 2(b).

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 8980. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

Relevant ENs to heading 8482 provide, in pertinent part, as follows:

This heading covers all ball, roller or needle roller type bearings. They are used in place of smooth metal bearings and enable friction to be considerably reduced. They are generally fitted between the bearing housing and the shaft or axle, and may be designed to give radial support (radial bearings) or to resist thrust (thrust bearings). Certain bearings may be designed for both radial and thrust support.

Normally, bearings consist of two concentric rings (races) enclosing the balls or rollers, and a cage which keeps them in place and ensures that their spacing remains constant.

The bearings classified in this heading include:

(A) Ball bearings, with single or double rows of balls. This group also includes slide mechanisms with bearing balls, for example:

(1) Those consisting of a steel outer ring rigidly locked with a brass inner ring which has six slots arranged lengthwise and in the shape of elongated ellipses enclosing small steel balls.

(2) The restricted-travel type, of steel, comprising a grooved cylinder, a ball cage and a housing.

(3) The free-travelling type, of steel, comprising a segment, a casing enclosing the bearing balls, and a guide rail with a groove of triangular section.

(B) Roller bearings, with single or double rows of rollers of any shape (cylindrical, conical, barrel-shaped, etc.).

(C) Needle roller bearings. These differ from ordinary roller bearings in that they are bearings with cylindrical rollers of a uniform diameter not exceeding 5 mm and having a length which is at least three times the diameter. The ends of the rollers may be rounded (see Subheading Note 2 to the Chapter). These rollers are fitted between the two rings of the bearing and in most cases no cage is used.

Owing to the high pressure to which they are exposed, bearings are normally of steel (especially chromium steel), though some for particular uses are of bronze, copper or plastics.

The heading also covers parts of ball, roller or needle roller bearings, e.g.:

(1) Polished steel balls (whether for bearings of this heading or not), the maximum and minimum diameters of which do not differ from the nominal diameter by more than 1% or by more than 0.05 mm whichever is less; balls not conforming to this definition are classified in heading 73.26 (see Chapter Note 6).

(2) Bearing balls of copper, bronze, plastics, etc.

(3) Needles or rollers for bearings, of any shape.

(4) Rings, cages, fixing sleeves, etc.

The heading does not cover machinery parts incorporating ball, roller or needle roller bearings; these are classified in their own appropriate headings, e.g.: (a) Bearing housings and bearing brackets (heading 84.83). (b) Bicycle hubs (heading 87.14).

The ENs to heading 8483, HTSUS, provide, in pertinent part, as follows:

The goods covered by this heading are mainly:

(i) Certain mechanical parts which are used in the transmission of power from an external power unit to one or more machines.

(ii) Certain internal parts of a machine, used to transmit power to the various parts of the same machine. Bearing housings consist of a frame or block designed to house the plain, ball, roller, etc., bearing in which (or, in the case of a thrust bearing, against which) the ends of a shaft or axle turn. They usually consist of two parts which, when fitted together, form a ring to hold the bearing. They may incorporate means of lubricating the bearing.

They also often incorporate a chair, plate, bracket, etc., by which they can be fixed to the machine, or to a wall or other part of a building; but chairs, plates, brackets, etc., not incorporating a bearing housing (nor themselves designed to house a bearing) are classified according to the constituent material (usually heading 73.25 or 73.26).

Bearing housings incorporating ball, roller or needle roller bearings remain classified in this heading; but ball, roller or needle roller bearings presented
separately fall in heading 84.82 [bold emphasis added].

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 962384, dated January 25, 1999, we stated that:

The outer portion of some bearings is significantly reinforced in thickness to provide weight-carrying capability. In addition, the inner and outer diameter surfaces are slightly contoured to permit the bearing to fit into and roll smoothly in a track. Known by various names, articles that function to position, hold and guide moving parts, as well as reduce friction between the moving parts and fixed parts, have been held to be ball or roller bearings of heading 8482. See THK America, Inc. v. United States, 17 CIT 1169 (1993), and lexicographic sources cited.

We believe that your contentions concerning the technical advancements made in the articles since the 1993 decision in THK, supra, are addressed in the subsequent decision in THK America, Inc. v. United States, 21CIT 290, 21 CIT 504, 960 F. Supp. 368 (1997). In the 1997 decision, THK made virtually identical arguments to those you present in the instant ruling request, i.e., that the articles were alternatively classifiable as other housed bearings under subheading 8483.20.80, HTSUS, or as ball bearings with integral shafts under subheading 8482.10.10, HTSUS. The Court of International Trade rejected those contentions, determining ultimately that “despite the new evidence presented at trial by THK regarding preloading, the Court remains convinced that THK’s LMGs [linear motion guides] properly fall under the definition of ball bearings.” THK, supra, 21 CIT 290, 295. It follows then, that because the linear motion guides are classifiable under heading 8482, HTSUS, that the linear motion blocks that comprise a significant component thereof are classifiable under heading 8482, HTSUS, as well.

The articles in question appear to be similar in form and function to the devices described in the EN to heading 8482, HTSUS. The articles contain recirculating steel balls that allow the motion block to move freely along a linear guide rail. Channels bored into the body of the motion block serve as rolling tracks for the steel balls, permitting those rolling elements to recirculate within the motion block as the block traverses the guide rail. The linear motion block with steel balls serves not only as a mounting for a linear bearing, but also as the race for the rolling elements that are essential to the function of the bearing. Such a design and function requires the classification of the articles as ball bearings and parts thereof because the intended function of those articles is to reduce friction. Therefore, because of this function, and by operation of note 2(a) of Section XVI, the articles are classified in heading 8482, HTSUS.

This conclusion comports with several prior rulings: Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 958014, dated July 20, 1995, which classified circular steel shafts for linear
bearings under subheading 8482.99.05, HTSUS; HQ 964815, dated December 5, 2001, which classified linear guide sliders under subheading 8482.10.50, HTSUS; and New York Ruling Letter (NY) B85872, dated June 20, 1997, which classified a three ring bearing assembly under subheading 8482.50.00, HTSUS, and noted that “in a housed bearing, the housing is separate and distinct from the bearing which its is designed to incorporate. Housings are designed to simply hold bearings which are, in and of themselves, complete and fully functional.” See also Treasury Decision (T.D.) 94-22 (published in the Federal Register on March 22, 1994 (59 FR 13450) and the Customs Bulletin of March 30, 1994) as it describes ball bearings and the THK decisions referenced above.


The linear motion blocks are classifiable under subheading 8482.10.50, HTSUS, which provides for linear ball bearings. If the motion blocks are presented without steel balls, they will be classified under subheading 8482.99.35, HTSUS, which provides for other parts of ball bearings.


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