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International Journal of Rotating Machinery
Volume 2005, Issue 1, Pages 53-59

Unbalance Response Prediction for Rotors on Ball Bearings Using Speed- and Load-Dependent Nonlinear Bearing Stiffness

1NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland 44135, OH, USA
2J. V. Poplawski and Associates, Bethlehem, 18018, PA, USA

Received 12 October 2003

Copyright © 2005 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.


Rolling-element bearing forces vary nonlinearly with bearing deflection. Thus, an accurate rotordynamic analysis requires that bearing forces corresponding to the actual bearing deflection be utilized. For this work, bearing forces were calculated by COBRA-AHS, a recently developed rolling-element bearing analysis code. Bearing stiffness was found to be a strong function of bearing deflection, with higher deflection producing markedly higher stiffness. Curves fitted to the bearing data for a range of speeds and loads were supplied to a flexible rotor unbalance response analysis. The rotordynamic analysis showed that vibration response varied nonlinearly with the amount of rotor imbalance. Moreover, the increase in stiffness as critical speeds were approached caused a large increase in rotor and bearing vibration amplitude over part of the speed range compared to the case of constant-stiffness bearings. Regions of bistable operation were possible, in which the amplitude at a given speed was much larger during rotor acceleration than during deceleration. A moderate amount of damping will eliminate the bistable region, but this damping is not inherent in ball bearings.