Surface texturing has been used to enhance contact performance for decades since 1960s. Surface structures can tremendously change the friction coefficient of the contact surface. These structures have been widely used in bearings and seals. According to previous studies, textured thrust bearings provide more loading capacity than non-textured bearings. Compared to tapered and step bearings, the dimples can also reduce the friction torque. However, most previous optimization efforts for texturing geometry were focused on rectangular dimples and employed Reynolds equation. Limited studies have been done to investigate the effects of partially textured thrust bearings with elliptical dimples. This study proposes a new optimization approach to find the optimal partially texture geometry with elliptical dimples, which maximize the loading capacity and minimize the friction torque. In this study, a 3D computational fluid dynamics model for a parallel sector-pad thrust bearing is built using ANSYS CFX software instead of solving Reynolds equation with simplified field assumptions. Only one sector of the thrust bearing is modeled. Mass conserving cavitation model is used to simulate the cavitation region inside the dimples. Energy equation for Newtonian flow is also solved. Realistic boundary conditions are applied. The results of the model are validated by the experimental data from the literature. Based on this model, the flow pattern and pressure distribution inside the dimples are analyzed. Then, the geometry of elliptical dimple is parameterized and analyzed using the method of design of experiments (DOE). In this study, all the dimples have identical geometry. The selected geometry parameters include the length of major axis, the length of minor axis, dimple depth, circumferential space between two dimples, radial space between two dimples, radial extend and circumferential extend. The design space is sampled using central composite method. A temperature threshold is set to exclude the design points which result in high temperatures. A quadratic response surface model is created based on the results of the DOE process. Next, a multi-objective optimization scheme is used to find the optimal texture structure with the load force and friction torque set as objective functions. The results show that the shape of dimples has a crucial effect on the performance of the textured thrust bearings. This optimization approach proposed is expected to be useful in typical texture design process of thrust bearing.

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