A recently proposed fatigue life model for rolling bearings has been applied to the study of lifetime reduction under conditions conducive to microspalling. The presence of a spike in the EHD pressure distribution produces large shear stresses localized very close to the surface which may account for early failure. This paper describes a parametric study of the effect of such spikes. Accurate stress fields in the volume are calculated for simulated pressure spikes of different height, width and position relative to a Hertzian pressure distribution, as well as for different lubricant traction coefficients and film thicknesses. Despite the high stress concentrations in the surface layers, reductions in life predicted by the model are modest. Typically, the pressure spike may halve the life, with the implication that subsurface fatigue still dominates. In corroboration of this prediction, preliminary experimental work designed to reproduce microspalling conditions shows that microindents due to overrolling particles are a much more common form of surface damage than microspalling.

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