Rolling bearings are still widely used in aeroengines. Whenever rotors are modeled, rolling bearing components are typically modeled using springs. In simpler models, this spring is considered to have a constant mean value. However, the rolling bearing stiffness changes with time due to the positions of the balls with respect to the load on the bearing, thus giving rise to an internal excitation known as Parametric Excitation. Due to this parametric excitation, the rotor-bearings system may become unstable for specific combinations of boundary conditions (e.g. rotational speed) and system characteristics (rotor flexibility etc.). Being able to identify these instability regions at a glance is an important tool for the designer, as it allows to discard since the early design stages those configurations which may lead to catastrophic failures.
In this paper, a Jeffcott rotor supported and excited by such rolling bearings is used as a demonstrator. In the first step, the expression for the time–varying stiffness of the bearings is analytically derived by applying the Hertzian Contact Theory. Then, the equations of motion of the complete system are provided. In this study, the Harmonic Balance Method (HBM) is used to as an approximate procedure to draw a stability map, thus dividing the input parameter space, i.e. rotational speed and rotor physical characteristics, into stable and unstable regions.