The following paper presents a new type of gas lubricated thrust bearing that utilizes additive manufacturing or also known as direct metal laser melting (DMLM) to fabricate the bearing. The motivation for the new bearing concept is derived from the need for highly efficient supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) turbomachinery in the mega-watt power range. The paper provides a review of existing gas thrust bearing technology, outlines the need for the new DMLM concept, and discusses proof of concept testing results. The new concept combines hydrostatic pressurization with individual tilting pads that are flexibly mounted using hermetic squeeze film dampers (HSFD) in the bearing-pad support. This paper describes the thrust bearing concept and discusses the final design approach. Proof-of-concept testing in air for a 6.8” (173mm) outer diameter thrust gas bearing was performed; with thrust loading, up to 1,500 lbs (6.67kN) and a thrust runner speed of 10krpm (91 m/s tip speed). The experiments were performed with a bent shaft resulting in thrust runner axial vibration magnitudes of 2.9mils (74microns) p-p and dynamic thrust loads of 270 lbs (1.2kN) p-p. In addition, force deflection characteristics and stiffness coefficients of the bearing system are presented for an inlet hydrostatic pressure of 380psi (2.62MPa). Results at 10krpm show that the pad support architecture was able to sustain high levels of dynamic misalignment equaling 6 times the nominal film clearance while demonstrating a unit load carrying capacity of 55psi (0.34Mpa). Gas-film force deflection tests portrayed nonlinear behavior like a hardening spring, while the bearing pad support stiffness was measured to be linear and independent of gas film thickness.

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