Pontryagin’s Maximum Principle is used to show that the configuration of the one-dimensional slider bearing which carries the maximum load for a specified minimum film thickness, is a modified Rayleigh bearing. The lubricant may be any Generalized Newtonian Fluid. Having selected two optimization criteria (1: maximum load capacity for a given minimum film thickness—2: minimum friction force for a specified load), a numerical program allows one to determine the optimal step bearing associated with the lubricant non-Newtonian viscosity. Several examples are worked out, showing that significant gains are expected, in comparison with the results obtained for the classical (Newtonian) Rayleigh bearing.

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