An elastic foil under tension is wrapped partly around a rotating cylinder and is supported on a thin film of air. Capacitance probes, coincident with the surface of the cylinder, scan the air gap along the arc of wrap. The cylinder can be traversed across the width of the stationary foil, so that the topography of the air gap can be determined from a series of circumferential scans. Experimental results are compared quantitatively with theoretical predictions for the perfectly flexible and for the elastic foil bearing of infinite width [8, 12]. A comparison is also made with theory, for the case when the angle of wrap is small and the entrance and exit transition zones merge [9]. The effect of foil and gap width on side leakage is illustrated. The last part of this study deals with elastic foil bearings of finite width and with the characteristic “edge effect” in particular. The influence of various parameters on the nature of the displacement field of foils is demonstrated and related to recent analyses [13].

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