Success Story

Software as a service – High-End plain bearing calculation for everyone

AC²T develops a web based tool for the simulation and design of plain bearings

Plain bearings - proven for thousands of years

Liquid- or grease-lubricated plain bearings are used as a durable and cost-effective solution in a wide range of applications and sizes for the bearing of shafts or axles. They are the most original form – effectively the “primordial bearing” – used since the invention of the wheel and the potter’s wheel. Traditional mechanical engineering design is based on empirical formulae, tables, and empirical values. However, for today’s operating conditions, with extreme demands on service life and energy efficiency, new materials and surface treatments are necessary. Complex numerical simulation methods are required to predict the tribological performance of new technologies, which includes low friction for high efficiency and minimum wear for long life.

Success Story 1 - 2023 Image
(Photo: AC²T)

Software as a Service - access to innovative simulation methods for everyone

These simulations are complex to set up and require extensive knowledge to create the models, as well as the appropriate software and a lot of computing power to perform the calculations. In order to provide a broad user base with a rapid design tool for new materials or surfaces, AC²T has developed a “Software as a Service” solution together with CERBSim.

The user does not need any specific tribological or simulation expertise and uses the calculation tool via a web browser, independent of the end device. The calculation result, including a customisable report, is available within a few minutes. Billing is based on a “costs-per-use” system, i.e. depending on the model complexity, a certain amount is charged per simulation.

Calculation models for all demands

Depending on the operating conditions, various contact situations occur in plain bearings. In the hydrodynamic range, the surfaces are completely separated, and the sliding properties are only determined by the lubricant. In the elasto-hydrodynamic range, the materials are elastically deformed, despite a continuous lubricant film. In the area of mixed friction, partial contact between the sliding surfaces is present. The surface structure and material properties of the bearing materials have a significant influence in all these operating conditions, but are often not taken into account by conventional designs. The simulation is based on the open-source finite element software Netgen/NGSolve and uses additional tribological modules. The user can specify component geometry, load capacity, 3D surface structures, operating conditions as well as lubricant or material properties and receives lubrication gap thicknesses, stress distributions, temperature distribution or wear – of course displayed in 3D in the report. In the development process, the plain bearing can thus be optimised more quickly and cost-effectively, for example by comparing different surface structures or lubricant and material combinations to quickly determine the “best performing” solution.

Left: Bearing with different lubrication grooves; Right: Display of the pressure distribution in the lubricant; (Photo: AC2T research GmbH)
Left: Bearing with different lubrication grooves; Right: Display of the pressure distribution in the lubricant; (Photo: AC2T research GmbH)

Project coordination (Story)

Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Ulrike Cihak-Bayr
Project leader
AC2T research GmbH