This paper describes a vibration-based diagnostic method by estimating the surface roughness on the rotating ring or balls in ball bearings. The surface roughness has been measured by a stylus that directly traverses the surface of the ring or balls obtained by taking apart the ball bearing. We developed a new method to estimate accurately the surface roughness by analyzing the short-length vibration signal that is excited when balls encounter flaws on the rotating ring or when races encounter flaws on the balls in a ball bearing. Our experimental results confirm that the roughness estimated by the proposed method agrees with that measured directly by using a stylus even in the case of crack μm wide. We applied this new method to the diagnosis of surface roughness in small-sized ball bearings and inferior samples were detected with a 95.3 percent accuracy rate.

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