The application of Acoustic Emission technology for monitoring rolling element or hydrodynamic plain bearings has been addressed by several authors in former times. Most of these investigations took place under idealized conditions, to allow the concentration on one single source of emission, typically recorded by means of a piezoelectric sensor. This can be achieved by either eliminating other sources in advance or taking measures to shield them out (e. g. by placing the acoustic emission sensor very close to the source of interest), so that in consequence only one source of structure-born sound is present in the signal. With a practical orientation this is often not possible. In point of fact, a multitude of potential sources of emission can be worth considering, unfortunately superimposing one another. The investigations reported in this paper are therefore focused on the simultaneous monitoring of both bearing types mentioned above. Only one piezoelectric acoustic emission sensor is utilized, which is placed rather far away from the monitored bearings. By derivation of characteristic values from the sensor signal, different simulated defects can be detected reliably: seeded defects in the inner and outer race of rolling element bearings as well as the occurrence of mixed friction in the sliding surface bearing due to interrupted lubricant inflow.

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