The development of models for the elastohydrodynamic lubrication of rotary lip seals requires the measurement of the film thickness under a real seal. A new method has been developed for this purpose which is based on the use of lubricant oils in which magnetite particles are suspended (so-called magnetic fluids). A change in the fluid film thickness will create a change in the impedance of the coil of the measuring circuit, the magnetic flux of which is directed through the oil film of the contact area. The advantage of this technique is that minimal modifications have to be applied to the tribological system under examination. Initial measurements carried out with a model rubber lip seal provided new insight into the build-up of a lubricant film as a function of the rotary speed and allowed comparison with the results of a theoretical model for the analysis of lip seal lubrication developed in parallel.

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