An effort was made to find a relationship between the lubricant thickness at the point of contact of rolling element ball bearings, and empirical equations to predict the life for bearings under constant motion. Two independent failure mechanisms were considered, fatigue failure and lubricant failure resulting in seizing of the roller bearing. A theoretical formula for both methods was established for the combined probability of failure using both failure mechanisms. Fatigue failure was modeled with the empirical equations of Lundberg and Palmgren and standardized in DIN/ISO281. The seizure failure, which this effort sought to investigate, was predicted using Greenwood and Williamson’s theories on surface roughness and asperities during lubricated contact. These two mechanisms were combined, and compared to predicted cycle lives of commercial roller bearing, and a clear correlation was demonstrated. This effort demonstrated that the Greenwood–Williams theories on the relative height of asperities versus lubricant film thickness can be used to predict the probability of a lubricant failure resulting in a roller bearing seizing during use.
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