In this paper, we use the asymptotic perturbation method to analyze the nonlinear dynamics of a rotor-active magnetic bearing (AMB) system with 16-pole legs. The motion governing equation is derived by using classical Newton law. The resulting dimensionless equation of motion for the system is expressed as a two-degree-of-freedom system including the parametric excitation, quadratic and cubic nonlinearities. The asymptotic perturbation method is used to obtain the averaged equation when the primary resonance and 1/2 sub-harmonic resonance are taken into consideration. From the averaged equations obtained, numerical simulations are presented to investigate the modulation of vibration amplitudes of the rotor-AMB system. Based on a specific set of parameters, it is found that there exist the periodic, quasi-periodic and chaotic motions in the modulated amplitude of the rotor in the system.

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