Rolling element bearing (REB) is one of the basic mechanical components in a rotating machinery. REBs’ remaining useful life (RUL) estimation allows not only to assess time for maintenance actions but also can prevent a critical failure of the mechanical system. Usually, REB damage occurs in two stages, damage initiation and damage propagation. In the current work, it is assumed that spall is generated on the surface of the raceway during the initiation stage. The spall generation process is modeled based on continuum damage mechanics with the representation of material grain structure and implemented using a Finite Element (FE) software. The results of the model are in a good agreement with published theoretical and experimental data. However, after the first spall formation, the bearing might be fully operational for millions of cycles. For estimation of the bearing RUL it is important to understand the damage propagation process. The material behavior at the trailing edge of the spall during the rolling element (RE) impact is analyzed. The analysis is carried out by using a hybrid modeling approach. This approach integrates non-linear dynamic modeling and FE simulations. The paper also includes a discussion on the ongoing research and the methodology for the development of the prognostic method. Implementation of the proposed methodology has the potential to provide a complete estimation of the bearing’s RUL: from first spall formation to the un-operational bearing.
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rolling element bearings, endurance tests, RUL, FE model
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