A detailed elasto-gasdynamic model of a preloaded three-pad air foil journal bearing is presented. Bump and top foil deflections are herein calculated with a nonlinear beamshell theory according to Reissner. The 2D pressure distribution in each bearing pad is described by the Reynolds equation for compressible fluids. With this model, the influence of the assembly preload on the static bearing hysteresis as well as on the aerodynamic bearing performance is investigated. For the purpose of model validation, the predicted hysteresis curves are compared with measured curves. The numerically predicted and the measured hysteresis curves show a good agreement. The numerical predictions exhibit that the assembly preload increases the bearing stiffness (in particular for moderate shaft displacements) and the bearing damping.

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