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A ball bearing in a military jet engine sustained heavy damage and was analyzed to determine the cause. Almost all of the balls and a portion of the outer race were found to be flaking, but there were no signs of damage on the inner race and cage. Tests (chemistry, hardness, and microstructure) indicated that the bearing materials met the specification requirements. However, closer inspection revealed areas of discoloration, or nonuniform contact marks, on the ID surface of the inner ring. The unusual wear pattern suggested that the bearing was not properly mounted, thus subjecting it to uneven or eccentric loading. This explains the preferential nature of the flaking on the outer race and points to an assembly error as the root cause of failure.

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Mechanical and Machine Components, Handbook of Case Histories in Failure Analysis, Vol 3, Edited By Larry Berardinis, ASM International, 2019

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