This paper, the first of two companion papers, proposes a general methodology for accurate modeling of the nonlinear behavior of ball and roller bearings. The models give stiffness matrices which can be introduced into standard finite element models of complex mechanical systems, with the aim of predicting mechanical behavior and load and strain distributions. In the case of an “isolated” ball bearing, the results obtained with the proposed approach are compared to results from the literature. Applications are implemented to evaluate the influence of external loadings on the stiffness matrices of tapered roller bearings mounted in a rigid mechanical environment.

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