Hirth coupling transmits high torques in the rotating assemblies of compressors and turbines. Their mating surface contacts cause local changes in lateral shaft stiffness. This is affected by the teeth geometry, contact surface area, coupling preload, and surface finish at the contact faces. Industry practice ignores localized lateral flexibility from the Hirth coupling, or is guided by limited experience-based rules of thumb. The authors provide a novel modeling approach utilizing 3D solid finite elements which accounts for contact deformations, intricate interface teeth geometries, stress concentration, and surface finish. This provides an increased accuracy localized stiffness model for the Hirth coupling, to improve rotordynamic response predictions. Free-free natural frequencies of a test rotor including a Hirth coupling are experimentally measured. The rotor is instrumented with strain gauges for preload force measurements, and the Hirth coupling contacting surface profiles are measured with a stylus type surface profiler. A GW contact model is obtained from the measured surface profiles. An iterative computation algorithm is utilized to calculate Hirth coupling contact stiffness and contact pressure at the complex-shaped contact surfaces. Predicted and measured natural frequencies are compared vs. preload.

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