The classical treatment of circular, hydrostatic, orifice-regulated thrust gas bearings, in which perfectly plane bearing plates are assumed, is extended to include axisymmetric, but otherwise arbitrary, plate profiles. Plate curvature has a strong influence on bearing load capability, static stiffness, tilting stiffness, and side force per unit misalignment angle. By a suitable combination of gas inlet impedance and concave plate profile, the static stiffness can be made almost constant over a wide load range, and to remain positive at the closure load. Extensive measurements performed with convex and concave plates agree with theory to within the experimental error throughout and demonstrate the practical feasibility of using curved plates.

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