A novel tool was developed that allows users to qualify small-diameter bearings before incorporating them into components. The High-Sensitivity, Environmentally Isolated Bearing Tester was developed to measure the coupled torsional loss resulting from rotation of the inner race of a small-diameter bearing. It is up to 20 times more sensitive than commercially available bearing testers, and comes with a suite of software that allows users to conduct testing based on what the bearing will experience in different applications.

The bearing tester with aligned carbon fiber “torque multiplier” arm and adjustable table load cell mount.

The bearing tester combines a high-quality, low-capacity load cell with an aligned carbon fiber “torque multiplier” arm. The bearing is inserted into a cartridge where a servomotor rotates the inner bearing race smoothly and repeatedly. This device is encased in an airtight environmental chamber to provide the ability to shield the tester with a cover gas during testing. This allows for use with bearings lubricated with oxygen or moisture-sensitive lubricants.

The custom-designed software suite that accompanies the bearing tester increases the range of tests by allowing users to configure a multi-part bearing test including modular sequences like oscillating between small angles, a low-speed torque test, and a high-speed wear-in sequence. These additional tests allow users to simulate how the bearing will perform in certain applications. Data is output in common ASCII format showing the measured torque and angular location of the data point.

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