In this paper a study is presented towards the effect of elastic deformation of the bearing surface of axial externally pressurized centrally pivoted modular air bearings. To this purpose shallow pocket, tapered and grooved air bearings are selected, which look the most promising to apply in small dimensions and with very small film thickness. The elastic deformation is calculated numerically by simultaneously solving the 2D-Reynolds equation for compressible fluids and the 3D-elasticity equation. The effect of the elastic distortion on the bearing performance is visualized in graphs presenting the load capacity and flow as a function of the film thickness. The results obtained from numerical calculation are verified experimentally.

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