The dynamic behavior of a noncontacting rotary mechanical face seal is analyzed. A closed-form solution is presented for the response of a flexibly mounted rotor to forcing misalignments which normally exist due to manufacturing and assembly tolerances. The relative misalignment between the rotor and the stator, which is the most important seal parameter, has been found to be time dependent with a cyclically varying magnitude. The relative response is minimum when support stiffness and damping are minimum. The gyroscopic couple is shown to have a direct effect on the dynamic response. This effect is enhanced at high speeds, and depending on the ratio between the transverse and polar moments of inertia, it can either decrease or increase the dynamic response. Its effect is most beneficial to seal performance when the rotor is a “short disk.” A numerical example demonstrates that a flexibly-mounted rotor seal outperforms a flexibly mounted stator seal with regard to the total relative misalignment, the critical stator misalignment, and the critical speed.

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