New owner sees wide potential in Bently's pressurized bearings

Published on: 

New Way Air Bearings, based in Aston, Pennsylvania, recently bought the assets of Bently Pressurized Bearing Company. New Way has 25 years of experience manufacturing air bearings, which are used by the machine tool, semiconductor and medical industries. New Way hopes to expand upon the work of Don Bently, former owner of Bently Nevada and Bently Pressurized Bearing Company.

Don died on Oct. 1, 2012. Don Bently is best known for developing eddy current probes and rotordynamic theory. After spending a lifetime of studying rotor instabilities he was keen to develop techniques to actively control instabilities. Bently demonstrated that by changing input pressure, and hence the stiffness of his bearings, the natural frequency of the rotor system could be tuned away from instabilities, from outside the machine.


New Way Air Bearings has been manufacturing air bearings for the machine tool, semiconductor, and medical industries for 25 years. Drew Devitt, founder and chairman of New Way Air Bearings, notes, “As I studied rotordynamics and bearing technology in the turbo industry, I was continually led to the works of Don Bently. Don saw the potential for externally pressurized gas bearings to replace hydrodynamic oil bearings, and even eliminate whip and whirl, simplifying rotordynamic issues. I believe that with New Way’s porous media technology I can make Don’s dream a reality, and overcome the limitations of the orifice technology he was using.”

Devitt shares Don's enthusiasm for the technology and has acquired more than just the Bently Pressurized Bearing name. New Way will be flying under Don’s technical flag as described in his book “The Fundamentals of Rotating Machinery Diagnostics.” As Devitt explains, “The reasoning and equations in his book (esp. chapter 23) are the technical foundation for dynamic models and ultimately the commercial success of the externally pressurized bearing technology we believe in.” To further that end New Way also acquired Don’s personal engineering library and one of the Bently Pressurized Bearing demonstration units will be on display at Turbomachinery Symposium this year.