The prediction of elastohydrodynamic lubrication (EHL) film thickness requires knowledge of the lubricant properties. Today, in many instances, the properties have been obtained from a measurement of the central film thickness in an optical EHL point contact simulator and the assumption of a classical Newtonian film thickness formula. This technique has the practical advantage of using an effective pressure-viscosity coefficient which compensates for shear-thinning. We have shown by a perturbation analysis and by a full EHL numerical solution that the practice of extrapolating from a laboratory scale measurement of film thickness to the film thickness of an operating contact within a real machine may substantially overestimate the film thickness in the real machine if the machine scale is smaller and the lubricant is shear-thinning in the inlet zone.

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