Metal mesh is a commercially available material used in many applications including seals, heat shields, filters, gaskets, aircraft engine mounts, and vibration absorbers. This material has been tested by the authors as a bearing damper in a rotordynamic test rig. The test facility was originally used to support the design of a turboprop engine, developing squirrel cages and squeeze film dampers for both the gas generator and power turbine rotors. To design the metal mesh damper, static stiffness and dynamic rap test measurements were first made on metal mesh samples in a specially designed nonrotating test fixture. These property tests were performed on samples of various densities and press fits. One sample was also tested in an Instron machine as an ancillary and redundant way to determine the stiffness. Using the stiffness test results and equations derived by a previous investigator, a spreadsheet program was written and used to size metal mesh donuts that have the radial stiffness value required to replace the squirrel cage in the power turbine. The squirrel cage and squeeze film bearing damper developed for the power turbine rotor was then replaced by a metal mesh donut sized by the computer code.
Coast down tests were conducted through the first critical speed of the power turbine. The results of the metal mesh tests are compared with those obtained from previous testing with the squeeze film damper and Show that the metal mesh damper has the same damping as the squeeze film at room temperature but does not lose its damping at elevated temperatures up to 103 °C. Experiments were run under several different conditions, including balanced rotor, unbalanced rotor, heated metal mesh, and wet (with oil) metal mesh. The creep, or sag, of the metal mesh supporting the rotor weight was also measured over a period of several weeks and found to be very small. Based on these tests, metal mesh dampers appear to be a viable and attractive substitute for squeeze film dampers in gas turbine engines. The advantages shown by these tests include less variation of damping with temperature, ability to handle large rotor unbalance, and the ability (if required) to operate effectively in an oil free environment. Additional testing is required to determine the endurance properties, the effect of high impact or maneuver loads, and the ability to sustain blade loss loads (which squeeze films cannot handle).