How Fluid Film Bearings Work

In a fluid film bearing, the stationary and rotating surfaces are separated by a thin film of lubricant, such as oil, air, water or process fluid. In a hydrodynamic fluid film bearing, the film pressure that separates the surfaces is created by the relative motion (rotation) of the surfaces as the lubricant is pulled into a converging geometry between the surfaces. No contact of the surfaces takes place except during start-up and shutdown.

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Fluid Film Bearing Design

Both mechanical design and material selection are critical for optimized bearing performance. Click below to read more about the factors that influence design choices.

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The Role of a Squeeze Film Damper

While fluid film bearings provide a significant amount of damping, it may not be sufficient for all rotating machinery. An additional means of increasing “effective” damping may be needed.

A squeeze film damper is a layer of film between the bearing and the housing that softens the bearing support to increase damping effectiveness.

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Fluid Film vs. Rolling Element Bearings

A key difference between rolling element and fluid film bearings is the expected life of the bearings. Rolling element bearings typically have a predictable life based on the operating conditions (the calculated L10 life). Fluid film bearings, when properly designed and maintained, can operate for decades.

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How Active Magnetic Bearings Work

A magnetic bearing is an oil-free bearing system that uses electromagnetic forces to maintain relative position of a rotor to a stator. An advanced electronic control system adjusts these electromagnetic forces in response to forces generated from machine operation.

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