The appearance of cracks in rotor systems affects the whirl response in the neighborhood of the critical whirl rotational speeds. The combined effect of the crack depth and the unbalance force vector angle orientation with respect to the crack opening direction on the effective stiffness content of the cracked rotor system in the neighborhood of the critical rotational speed is addressed here. The effective stiffness expression of the cracked system can be obtained from the direct integration of the equations of motion of the cracked rotor system. The cracked rotor equations of motion can be expressed by the Jeffcott rotor or the finite element models. The appearance of cracks in rotor systems converts them into parametrically excited dynamical systems with time-periodic stiffness components. The interaction between the time-periodic stiffness and the external periodic forcing function of the unbalance force significantly alters the effective stiffness content in the system at both transient and steady state operations. For wide range of crack depths and unbalance force vector angles, the effective stiffness has been found to be of negative values. This means that the cracked rotor system tends to have more resistance to deflect towards the center of its whirl orbit and less resistance to deflect away under the unbalance force excitation effect. Consequently, in the negative stiffness content zone of the unbalance force vector angles, the cracked rotor system tends to exhibit a sharp growth in the vibration whirl amplitudes. However, for positive effective stiffness values, the shaft has more resistance to deflect away from its whirl orbit center. Therefore, the cracked rotor system is at higher risk of failure in the negative effective stiffness zone of unbalance force vector angles than the positive effective stiffness zone of these angles.

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