This work demonstrates the capability of an Active Magnetic Bearing (AMB) to be used as an actuator for interrogating a system by applying multiple forces to a rotating shaft in order to monitor and evaluate the associated responses to these inputs. Similar to modal analysis techniques which apply input signals to static structures in order to monitor responses to those inputs, this approach allows for the measurement of both input and output response in a rotating system for evaluation. However, unlike these techniques, the procedure developed here allows for multiple forms of force inputs to be applied to a rotating structure. This procedure facilitates the development of new improved techniques for diagnosing subtle changes in machinery health or for identifying faults that would potentially go undetected by conventional methods before failure. Although it is expected that this approach can be used in rotors supported in AMBs, the technique developed here uses an AMB on the rotor in conjunction with conventional support bearings. Therefore, this approach has the potential to be used on any rotating machine that can be designed or retrofitted with a single AMB actuator. To demonstrate this approach experimentally, a notched shaft was chosen to represent a shaft crack for identification purposes. Three cases were examined, including a healthy (unnotched) shaft, and three cases of a shaft with a mid-span notch extending to a depth of 10%, 25%, and 40% of shaft diameter, respectively. During testing, excitations up to 1000 Hz were applied via one axis of the AMB actuator to the four rotor cases while the rotor was operating at a steady-state speed of 2400 rpm, and corresponding responses were recorded at the proximity probes. No changes in the 1st or 2nd natural frequencies were detected, but distinct shifts in the 3rd natural frequency were detected from the Frequency Response Function (FRF) data. Since the vast majority of rotating machinery are designed to operate below the 3rd natural frequency, the effect of the notch on the 3rd natural frequency would not have been identified without the application of excitation forces through the AMB actuator. This paper represents an introduction to the new health monitoring approach and results presented here demonstrate the viability of the technique for detecting shaft cracks that might otherwise go undetected in typical steady-state vibration monitoring approaches.

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