Modelling the entrainment and motion of particles in a gap: Application to abrasive wear

Yukihiro Kusano, I.M. Hutchings

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The microscale abrasion or ball-cratering test is being increasingly applied to a wide range of bulk materials and coatings. The response of materials to this test depends critically on the nature of the motion of the abrasive particles in the contact zone: whether they roll and produce multiple indentations in the coating, or slide causing grooving abrasion. Similar phenomena also occur when hard contaminant particles enter a lubricated contact. This paper presents simple quantitative two-dimensional models which describe two aspects of the interaction between a hard abrasive particle and two sliding surfaces.

The first model treats the conditions under which a spherical abrasive particle of size d can be entrained into the gap between a rotating sphere of radius R and a plane surface. These conditions are determined by the coefficients of friction between the particle and the sphere, and the particle and the plane, denoted by μs and μp respectively. This model predicts that the values of (μs + μp) and 2μs should both exceed √2d/R for the particles to be entrained into the contact. If either is less than this value, the particle will slide against the sphere and never enter the contact.

The second model describes the mechanisms of abrasive wear in a contact when an idealized rhombus-sectioned prismatic particle is located between two parallel plane surfaces separated by a certain distance, which can represent either the thickness of a fluid film or the spacing due to the presence of other particles. It is shown that both the ratio of particle size to the separation of the surfaces and the ratio of the hardnesses of the two surfaces have important influences on the particle motion and hence on the mechanism of the resulting abrasive wear. Results from this model are compared with experimental observations, and the model is shown to lead to realistic predictions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part J: Journal of Engineering Tribology
Issue numberJ6
Pages (from-to)427-433
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


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