Aerodynamic Bearings

All air bearings ride on a thin film of gas which provides lubrication. In the case of aerodynamic or self-acting bearings, the air film is created by the relative motion of two mating surfaces separated by a small distance. From rest, as the speed increases, a velocity induced pressure gradient is formed across the clearance. The increased pressure between the surfaces creates the load carrying effect. The load capacity is dependent on the relative speed at which the surface moves and therefore at zero speed, the bearing supports no load.

Disadvantages of Aerodynamic Bearings

In general, aerodynamic bearings suffer from decreased load carrying capacity. In addition, the zero load at zero speed effect causes starting and stopping friction and results in some wearing of the bearing surfaces.

Applications of Aerodynamic Bearings

Notwithstanding some of the disadvantages, self-acting bearings have found widespread use in industry. The magnetic read/write heads in disk memory storage devices are in fact aerodynamic bearings that float in close proximity to the disk. This bearing's principal advantage is its ability to act without an external pressure source.

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