New Damage Accumulation Model for Spall Propagation Mechanism in Bearing Raceways

Ravit Ohana, Renata Klein, Roni Shneck, Jacob Bortman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to investigate the spall propagation mechanism in ball bearing raceways using physics-based models. Spalling is one of the most common types of bearing failures that can lead to catastrophic failure. This research takes a step forward toward developing a prognostic tool for ball bearings. It is first necessary to understand the spall progression process in order to formulate a constitutive law of spall deterioration and to estimate the amount of remaining useful life. Fragment formation in the vicinity of the spall edge was found to consist of surface and sub-surface cracks that eventually coalesce, and a fragment is released from the raceway, based on naturally-developed spalls. Here, we describe a physics-based model, integrating a dynamic model with a finite element one to simulate this process. A continuum damage mechanics (CDM) approach and fracture mechanics tools were embedded into the finite element model to simulate the damage propagation. The formation of cracks in the vicinity of the spall (surface and sub-surface cracks) were studied using this effective stress CDM model, and the propagation of the cracks was examined using two approaches: a fracture mechanics approach and an accumulated inelastic hysteresis energy CDM approach. The latter also predicts the overall process of a single fragment release. The simulation results of the spall propagation models are supported by experimental results of spalls from both laboratory experimental bearings and an in-service Sikorsky CH-53 helicopter swashplate bearing. The results obtained show that the impact of the ball on the spall edge affects the crack propagation and the appearance of the surface and sub-surface cracks. Both release the residual stresses and cause crack propagation until a fragment is released.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1750
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • damage mechanics
  • fatigue crack growth
  • finite element
  • rolling element bearings
  • spall propagation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Materials Science


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