The purpose of this experiment was to explore the operational behavior of hydrodynamic thrust bearings machined from various composite materials (PTFE-Filled Delrin Acetal Resin and MDS-Filled Nylon) and general Aluminum under a set of different axial loading conditions. Since thrust bearings allow mechanical components subjected to axial loads to rotate more freely, they must counter a great deal of friction which can cause bearing failure in order to maintain proper movement. In order to reduce friction and weight, this research posits that thrust bearings machined from composite materials of lower friction coefficients and densities to that of conventionally used materials such as aluminum may provide some advantages. This hypothesis was tested by machining three thrust bearings, all to the same geometric specifications (two composites and one Aluminum) and subjecting them to thrust loads of 25, 50, 75, and 100 pounds while rotating them at a constant rotational speed of 3050 RPM for 10 minutes at each load using a customized test rig. A thermocouple implanted into the bearings themselves recorded the operation temperatures at a sampling rate of 20 Hz. Based on the average temperatures recorded at the 100 pound axial/thrust load, the experiments suggest that the PTFE-Filled Delrin Acetal maintains the lowest average operating temperature of 29.5 °C, followed by the MDS-Filled Nylon at 41.6 °C and lastly the Aluminum at 54.4 °C — a trend that is observed at each axial load albeit less pronounced. These results suggest that composite materials such as PTFE-Filled Acetal and MDS-Filled Nylon to be used in lieu of conventional metals and operate at lower temperatures and lower friction.

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