A ball bearing consists of a central cylinder of radius surrounded by tangent balls of radius . All the balls are circumscribed by a hollow cylinder with radius , for simplicity.

In the cross section, the cylinder is shown as an orange disk, the balls are shown as purple disks, and the hollow cylinder is shown as a circle.

Joining the center of the orange disk O to the centers P and Q of two successive purple disks shows that the center angle is , where is the number of purple disks. The line segment connecting O to the tangent point of two consecutive purple disks bisects this angle, so each smaller angle measures . The line segment connecting P and Q is perpendicular to the line segment between the center of the orange disk and the tangent point of the two blue balls. Therefore: