The rolling element bearing is a key part of machines. The accurate and timely diagnosis of its faults is critical for predictive maintenance. Most researches have focused on the fault location identification. To estimate the fault severity accurately, this paper focuses on the study of roller bearing vibration amplitude under increasing radial clearances due to inevitable wear using the modulation signal bispectrum (MSB). The experiment is carried out for bearings with two different clearances for the inner race fault and the outer race fault cases. The results show that the vibration amplitudes at fault characteristic frequencies exhibit significant changes with increasing clearances. However, the amplitudes of vibrations tend to increase with the severity of the outer race fault and decrease with the severity of the inner race fault. Therefore, it is necessary to take into account these effects in diagnosing the size of defect.
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