Experimental Investigation of the Spall Propagation Mechanism in Bearing Raceways

Ravit Ohana, Renata Klein, Roni Shneck, Jacob Bortman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This article investigates the spall propagation mechanism for ball bearing raceways by focusing on an experimental investigation of cracks that evolve in the vicinity of the spall edge. Understanding the spall propagation mechanism is an important step towards developing a physics-based prognostic tool for ball bearings. This research reflects an investigation of different spall sizes that propagate naturally both in laboratory experiments and in the field. By using a combined model of a rigid body dynamic model and a finite element model that simulates the rolling element–spall edge interaction, our results shed light on the material behavior (displacements, strains, and stresses) that creates an environment for crack formation and propagation. With the support of the experimental results and the rolling element–spall edge interaction model results, three stages of the mechanism that control fragment release from the raceway were identified. In Stage one, sub-surface cracks appear underneath the spall trailing edge. In Stage two, cracks appear in front of the trailing edge of the spall and, in Stage three, the cracks propagate until a fragment is released from the raceway. These stages were observed in all the tested bearings. In addition, other phenomena that affect the propagation of the cracks and the geometry of the fragment were observed, such as blistering and plastic deformation. We include an explanation of what determines the shape of the fragments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number68
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • crack detection
  • dynamic model
  • fatigue crack growth
  • finite element
  • rolling element bearings
  • spall propagation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Materials Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Experimental Investigation of the Spall Propagation Mechanism in Bearing Raceways'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this