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International Journal of Rotating Machinery
Volume 5 (1999), Issue 1, Pages 53-65

Modelling of Shaft Orbiting with 3-D Solid Finite Elements

1Bently Rotor Dynamics Research Corporation, P.O. Box 2529, Minden, NV 89423, USA
2Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton AB T6G 2G8, Canada

Revised 29 May 1998

Copyright © 1999 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A 3-D solid finite element model which can include bending, torsional, axial and other motions is proposed to analyse dynamic responses of shafts. For uniform shafts, this model shows consistency with beam theories when bending vibration is examined. For non-uniform shafts such as tapered ones, however, this model gives much more reliable and accurate results than beam theories which use an assumption that plane sections remain plane. Reduction procedures can be applied which involve only small matrix operations for such a system with a large number of degrees of freedom. The equations of motion have been consistently derived in a rotating frame. Shaft orbiting motion is then defined in this frame, giving a clear view of its trajectories. Forced responses due to excitation in the rotating frame have been examined to find some characteristics of the orbiting shaft. Resonant orbiting frequencies, i.e., natural frequencies of rotating shafts, can be determined in terms of the rotating or fixed frame. Trajectories of transverse displacements have been found to be varying with the forcing frequencies. At resonance, a uniform shaft will only have forward or backward orbiting motion with circular orbits. For other forcing frequencies, however, even a uniform shaft could present both forward and backward orbiting motions with non-circular orbits at different locations along its length. It is anticipated that modelling of shaft orbiting in the rotating frame with the proposed 3-D solid finite elements will lead to accurate dynamic stress evaluation.