Ball bearings are important mechanical components in high-speed turbomachinery that is liable for severe vibration and noise due to the inherent nonlinearity of ball bearings. Using experiments and the numerical approach, the nonlinear dynamic behavior of a flexible rotor supported by ball bearings is investigated in this paper. An experimental ball bearing-rotor test rig is presented in order to investigate the nonlinear dynamic performance of the rotor systems, as the speed is beyond the first synchroresonance frequency. The finite element method and two-degree-of-freedom dynamic model of a ball bearing are employed for modeling the flexible rotor system. The discrete model of a shaft is built with the aid of the finite element technique, and the ball bearing model includes the nonlinear effects of the Hertzian contact force, bearing internal clearance, and so on. The nonlinear unbalance response is observed by experimental and numerical analysis. All of the predicted results are in good agreement with experimental data, thus validating the proposed model. Numerical and experimental results show that the resonance frequency is provoked when the speed is about twice the synchroresonance frequency, while the subharmonic resonance occurs due to the nonlinearity of ball bearings and causes severe vibration and strong noise. The results show that the effect of a ball bearing on the dynamic behavior is noticeable in optimum design and failure diagnosis of high-speed turbomachinery.

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