The effect of the film shape on the load carrying capacity of a hydrodynamically lubricated bearing has not been considered an important factor in the past. Flat-faced tapered bearing and the Raileigh’s step bearing of constant film thickness have been the primary forms of film shapes for slider bearing studies and design data developments. This article, by the computer aided numerical solution of the Reynolds equation for two dimensional incompressible lubricant flow, investigates hydrodynamically lubricated slider bearings having different film shapes and studies the effect of the film shape on the performance characteristics of finite bearings; and it shows that optimized bearing with film shapes having descending slope toward the trailing edge of the bearing has considerably higher load carrying capacity than the optimized flat-faced tapered bearing of the same properties. For example the truncated cycloidal film shape yields 26.3 percent higher load carrying capacity for Lz/Lx = 1 size ratio, and 44 percent higher for Lz/Lx = 1/2. The article then presents charts for the optimum designs of finite slider bearings having tapered, exponential, catenoidal, polynomial, and truncated-cycloidal film shapes, and illustrates their use in numerical bearing design examples. These charts also furnish information on flow rate, side leakage, temperature rise, coefficient of friction, and friction power loss in optimum bearings. Appended to the article are analytical solutions for infinitely wide bearings with optimum bearing characteristics. The computer aided numerical solution of the Reynolds equation in most general form is presented by which finite or infinitely wide hydrodynamically or hydrostatically lubricated bearings, externally pressurized or not, can be studied. A digital computer program is made available.

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