Incorrect grounding of an electric motor resulted in electric current passing through a 52100 steel ball bearing and caused multiple arcing between the rolling elements. The multiple arcing developed a pattern on the outer race known as ‘fluting’. A section of ball race outer showed the distinct banding (fluting) resulting from spark discharges while the bearing was rotating. The severe distress of the surface resulted in unacceptable levels of vibration. An SEM photograph of the banded regions showed smoothing of the asperities from continued operation is evident. In the craters the residue of partial melting was seen.
H.W. Walton, Failure of Electric Motor Ball Bearing, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Mechanical and Machine Components, ASM International, 2019, https://doi.org/10.31399/asm.fach.mech.c9001900
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