In the present study, the influences of the bearing clearance, which is a common fault for machines, to the chatter stability of milling process are examined by using numerical simulation method. The results reveal that the presence of bearing clearance could make the milling process easier to enter the status of chatter instability and can shift the chatter frequency. In addition, the spectra analysis to vibration signals obtained under the instable milling processes show that the presence of bearing clearance could introduce more frequency components to the vibration responses but, however, under both the stable and instable milling processes, the generated frequency components will not violate the ideal spectra structures of the vibration responses of the milling process, which are usually characterized by the tooth passing frequency and its associated higher harmonics for the stable milling process and by the complex coupling of the tooth passing frequency and the chatter frequency for the instable milling process. This implies that, even under the case with bearing clearance fault, the stability of the milling process can still be determined by viewing the frequency spectra of the vibration responses. Moreover, the phenomena of the chatter frequency shift and the generation of more components provide potential ways to detect the bearing clearance in machines. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved
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