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Short communication

Experimental study of friction in sheet metal forming

L. Figueiredo, A. Ramalho , M.C. Oliveira, L.F. Menezes
CEMUC Mechanical Engineering Department, University of Coimbra, Portugal

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 3 September 2010
Received in revised form 4 February 2011
Accepted 4 February 2011

Sheet metal forming

a b s t r a c t
During deformation of the sheet metal over a tool, contact occurs only at the peak asperities of both
surfaces. In the contact areas the processed material ows over the tools surface, therefore all the models used to study forming processes must include a way to take into account the contact with friction
phenomena. More widely used friction models are based in the Amontons-Coulomb theories.
Unfortunately experience shows that for most applications the available models cannot accurately
describe the friction phenomena. The determination of the friction coefcient in a sheet metal forming
process is a complex procedure, because many variables inuence the friction mechanisms. The aim of
this research work is to apply an experimental approach in order to bridge simple benchmark friction
experiments with real sheet forming applications.
Two different techniques were used to assess friction, namely unidirectional crossed cylinders sliding with linear increase of the load and an equipment which allows measuring the friction coefcient
under stretch-forming conditions in a sheet metal forming process. The tested materials are a cold-rolled
advanced high-strength steel, DP600, and an aluminium 1100 alloy against heat-treated AISI D3 steel. The
test protocols were established to allow the study of several effects: sliding speed, the surface roughness,
the lubricant effect, the load and the running-in effect. The differences between the two techniques are
widely discussed and laser prolometry and scanning electron microscopy are used to help understand
the prevalent friction mechanisms.
The present study allows concluding that: the friction results obtained by a load-scanning test are
always higher than values assessed by a draw-bead test; roughness of the die material plays an important
role on the friction coefcient; a signicant reduction of friction was attained in multi-pass load-scanning
tests due to running-in effect.
2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
Nowadays, numerical simulation has been widely accepted in
the optimisation of forming processes owing to the advantage of
the notable progress of computer capabilities. Signicant benets
can be obtained especially on time-to-market and start-up costs by
utilizing simulations. However, the advantage of applying numerical simulation of sheet metal forming operations results depends
on the correct modelling of several topics [1,2]. Among these, contact conditions denition in conjunction with friction modelling
assumes a decisive role. In fact, tribological properties, and frictional processes, are important factors determining the result of
forming [3]. However, tribology itself comprises the interaction of
different factors connected to the sheet metal surface. Thus, experimental research in sheet metal forming follows two directions:

Corresponding author. Tel.: +351 239790735.

E-mail address: (A. Ramalho).
0043-1648/$ see front matter 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

- to understand contact conditions during sheet metal forming;

- to assess the inuence of specic variables in sheet metal forming
Therefore, experimental research should include classic tests,
where each inuencing parameter could be isolated and controlled,
and technological modelling tests to allow transferability of the
results from the laboratory to the different industrial metal forming
Concerning classic tests, Podgornik et al. [4] performed a study
to evaluate galling properties of tool materials for metal forming
operations comparing several tribological test methods. Among
several possibilities, it was proved that load scanning is a very
simple and suitable method to evaluate galling properties of tool
materials. This method was successfully applied to study the effect
of the surface treatment and the roughness of tool material as well
the behaviour of different lubricants [48].
The assessment of friction during sheet metal forming operations is a very complex task, and the laboratory test selected
presents a fundamental importance on the friction results. Tisza
and Flp [3] classied friction tests for sheet metal forming as a


L. Figueiredo et al. / Wear 271 (2011) 16511657

function of the main performed operations: stretch forming; deep

drawing; stretch drawing.
Stretch forming was used by several authors [911] to study
the inuence of several parameters on friction during sheet metal
forming. New die materials and surface treatments have been
investigated [10,11] as well as the effect of blank material, surface
roughness and lubricant viscosity. Instrumented deep-drawing
tests were used especially to evaluate the effect of lubricants
[1214]. The stretch-drawing type tests are widely used to investigate the inuence of several material and technological parameters
Among stretch-drawing tests, the draw-bead type test introduced by Nine [24] assumes an outstanding role. Sanchez [25]
published results from an interlaboratory exercise with this technique which reveals very accurate experimental results.
In spite of the abundant number of laboratory tests that have
been reported, effective numerical simulation is still hindered by
accuracy of the contact and friction modelling. This difculty can be
understood due to the nature of the friction phenomena. The main
objectives of this study are:

- Understand friction during sheet metal forming using complementary experimental methods: load-scanning and draw-bead
friction tests.
- Compare the results obtained by two different experimental techniques: one, the load scanning, with good control and which
allows the study of the effect of each variable; the second, draw
bead, replicates the sheet metal forming conditions, so the transferability of the results is assured.
- Testing the abilities of the recently developed draw-bead tester
in different contact conditions.

2. Experimental details

Fig. 1. Detail of load-scanning test assembly.

The friction coefcient, as established by the AmontonsCoulomb model, corresponds to the linear proportionality ratio
between the friction force and the normal load [27], Eq. (1). Therefore, each pair (friction force; normal force) allows the estimation
of the friction coefcient value, as plotted in Fig. 2a.
F = N


2.1. Load-scanning tests

The load-scanning test was done with two opposite cylindrical
surfaces, with cross relative position, i.e. with the axes in perpendicular directions. Relative sliding motion during testing forms 45
in relation to each specimen axis, therefore the contact spot moves
along a contact path on each specimen. This test procedure derives
from the research work of Hogmark [47,26].
This type of test, with point-contact geometry, can be done with
a constant normal load or varying the load, using different loading
waves, during the test. The sliding velocity is another test parameter that can be adjusted. The equipment also allows changing the
diameter of specimens, their roughness and the lubrication. Moreover tests can be done applying single or multi-pass conditions.
The equipment developed at the University of Coimbra has a
high precision of motion and positioning and is numerically controlled [8]. The sliding motion corresponds to the movement of
the horizontal base, where the specimen is xed on a three-axis
piezoelectric load cell. Normal load is applied by a spring, with
well-dened constant rigidity, controlling the vertical motion of
the upper specimen. Therefore, both the specimen path and the
loading wave are numerically controlled. Both normal and tangential forces, measured by the load cell, were acquired in real-time
during the test.
Default test conditions in this research were: load linear increase
from 0 to 75 N with a sliding speed of 1 mm/s. Contact occurs
between a cylinder with 5 mm diameter of the die steel, against
a sheet specimen with cylindrical shape. In this study sheets with
a thickness of 1 mm were conformed to obtain a cylindrical shell
with a contact radius of 5 mm Fig. 1.

Fig. 2. Effect of the normal load in the friction coefcient.

L. Figueiredo et al. / Wear 271 (2011) 16511657


Fig. 4. Evolution of friction coefcient with increasing roughness (DP600 against


The pulling force of the sheet is the sum of the force of bending
plus the friction force. Thus, in order to nd the friction coefcient
in the process it is very important know the contribution of these
two effects to the pulling force. To resolve this problem two types
of test are made. The rst one, the A type test is made with the
ve rotary rolls built with bearings. In this assembly the pulling
force measurement just takes into account the deformation force,
because with these rollers the tests are done with negligible friction. In the second one, the B type test, the rollers 1, 2 and 3,
Fig. 4, are changed to xed rollers. In this type of test the pulling
measurement takes into account the deformation and the friction
The friction coefcient is evaluated in these tests according to
Eq. (2) [24], where Ffs is the total pulling force, acquired in B type
test, Ffr is the pulling force without friction, acquired in A type
test and Fn is the normal force, measured during B type test by
the corresponding load cell, Fig. 3b.

Fig. 3. Draw-bead friction test. (a) Conguration of the deformation geometry. (b)
Outline of the test assembly.

For these tests performed with increasing load, the friction coefcient is better determined as a slope, because in that case the
friction coefcient is the relationship between the friction force and
normal load increase and thus the offset errors are nullied [27].
This approach, Fig. 2b, allows the verication of the applicability of
the linear Amontons-Coulomb model and permits the calculation
of a safe friction coefcient value that is applicable to the entire
loading range.
2.2. Draw-bead friction test
The draw-bead test allows the simulation of the bending and
unbending in a sheet metal forming process and to measure the
friction coefcient during the sliding of the sheet against a die during the forming process [25]. To do this type of test, test equipment
was especially designed in order to be used in conjunction with
a classical electromechanical tensile test machine. With this test
equipment it is possible to measure the forces associated with the
forming process. The required conguration is shown in Fig. 3.
These tests are performed with a constant velocity and the
pulling and normal force data is acquired by two load cells with
a rate of 100 Hz.

Ffs Ffr


Default test conditions in this research were: xed relative positions of the rolls, constant speed of 1 mm/s and a sliding distance
of 100 mm. The values of the force components used in Eq. (2) to
calculate the friction coefcient are the average of the measurements in the steady-state part of the test. For each test condition
a minimum of three repetitions were considered, further the average value of friction coefcient and the standard deviation were
also considered.
2.3. Materials
The tool steel AISI D3, tempered and quenched, was used as die
material. Two cold-rolled sheet materials, with a thickness of 1 mm,
were used in the friction test against AISI D3, namely: DP600 dualphase steel and aluminium alloy AA 1100. Table 1 summarises the
material properties.
Table 2 summarises the different material combinations used
in the different series of tests. All tests were done with lubrication. Before testing, both sliding surfaces were cleaned with ethylic
alcohol and lubricated with stamping oil, Fuchs Renoform MZAN
54. The average quantity of lubricant applied was around 25 g/m2 .
Table 1
Mechanical properties.

Hardness (GPa)
Yield stress (MPa)
Ult. tensile stress (MPa)

AA 1100







L. Figueiredo et al. / Wear 271 (2011) 16511657

Table 2
Summary of test conditions and material combination.


Experimental technique

Comparison loadscanning/draw-bead

DP600 against D3
AA1100 against D3
Lubricant Fuchs MZAN54

Inuence of roughness

DP600 against D3
Lubricant Fuchs MZAN54

Inuence of running-in

DP600 against D3
AA1100 against D3
Lubricant Fuchs MZAN54

Lubrication regime

DP600 against D3
Lubricant viscosity:
28.0360.18 mPa s

3. Results and discussion

3.1. Comparison between draw-bead and load-scanning friction
In order to compare the results obtained by load-scanning and
draw-bead testing systems, a set of tests was performed for both
pairs of materials under study. Table 3 summarises the obtained
Experimental results obtained for the aluminium alloy demonstrated the effect of the die material roughness on the friction. In
this case, the effect of abrasion by steel asperities is determinant in
the result. Therefore, an increase of the roughness induced a rise in
the friction coefcient. Comparing friction coefcients obtained for
the two tested pairs, in the same roughness conditions, the highest
value corresponds to the steel sheet material, which should be due
to the higher yield stress value.
Comparing the results obtained by both techniques one can see
that the same evolution has been obtained in both cases. However, load scanning always produced lower friction values. This
difference should be due to the highest contact pressure on the
load-scanning test. In fact, the increase in contact pressure could
induce a reduction in the friction by changing the transition from a
mixed to a boundary lubrication regime [28,29]. The contact pressure in the draw-bead test can be calculated applying the formula
developed for at belt drives and band type brakes [30]. The contact
pressure, p, is a function of the maximum pulling force in the metal
sheet band, Ffs , the band width, w, and the roll radius, r, Eq. (3). The
values obtained for the maximum pressure are around 8 MPa. In
the load-scanning friction test the contact occurs between crossed
cylinders with equal radius; therefore, is a Hertzian type contact.
Table 3
Die roughness and friction coefcients (average values and standard deviation)
measured by draw-bead and by load-scanning tests.


D3 Roughness
Rz /Ra (m)

Draw bead COF


0.14 0.019
0.11 0.0014
0.13 0.0007


Normal load: linear 075 N

Contact radius: 5 mm
Sliding speed: 1 mm/s
Rz of D3: 1.66 and 2.48 m

Roll diameter: 21 mm
Sliding speed: 1 mm/s
Rz of D3: 1.66 and 2.48 m
Roll diameter: 21 mm
Sliding speed: 1 mm/s
Rz of D3: 1.66, 2.48, 3.66 and 4.47 m

Normal load: linear 075 N

Contact radius: 5 mm
Multi-pass test: 5 passes
Rz of D3: 1.66 m
Roll diameter: 21 mm
Sliding speed: 18.47 mm/s
Rz of D3: 1.66 m

In the lubrication tests, in addition to the stamping oil, three

parafnic industrial mineral oils, with viscosities ISO 32, 46 and 68,
were used.
Mahr-Rodenstock RM600 3D laser topography equipment was
used to assess the roughness. Philips XL30 scanning electron microscope was used to investigate the wear surfaces.



Considering the contact geometry and the maximum normal load,

the maximum pressure value was 3130 MPa.


In spite of the differences obtained by the two techniques, the

values agree with the majority of the published results. Using
a hybrid numericalexperimental approach, Subramonian [31]
achieved values in the range of 0.080.09, therefore similar to those
obtained from load scanning. However, other authors [25,32] measured values around 0.15, which agree with the values obtained in
the current work applying the draw-bead technique.
3.2. Inuence of roughness
In order to further evaluate the effect of surface roughness,
draw-bead tests were done with the DP600 sheet against AISI D3
sliding cylinders, under different conditions. The D3 specimens
were polished with different polishing routines, from emery paper
grit P320 up to P2500, which corresponds to the test conditions of
the results presented in the previous section. The different emery
papers were applied with the rolls in rotation in a lathe, using a
similar procedure to that used to prepare metallographic specimens. Before the tested rolls were cleaned in an ultrasonic bath of
ethylic alcohol. The roughness of the cylinder sliding surfaces was
measured by laser roughmeter equipment; Table 4 summarises the
obtained results.
Fig. 4 shows the evolution of the friction coefcient with the
die surface roughness. One can see a clear tendency of an increase
of the friction coefcient with the increase of the Rz peak-to-peak
roughness parameter. However this growth tends to stabilise for
the highest roughness values.
Considering the difference of hardness between the tested
materials, and the low sliding speed, abrasion was the main contact
mechanism. In fact, as displayed in Fig. 5, the wear occurs mainly
by grooving. Therefore single asperity models [33] can be used to
explain the increase of the friction coefcient with the raise of surface roughness. Furthermore, bearing in mind the low sliding speed
used in these tests (1 mm/s) and the lubricant viscosity (40 mm2 /s),
Table 4
Roughness parameters of different tested die surfaces (m).

Load scanning COF

0.083 0.005
0.075 0.018
0.11 0.015













L. Figueiredo et al. / Wear 271 (2011) 16511657


Fig. 5. Micrograph of the contact surface. The scratches parallel to the sliding direction allow identication of abrasion by grooving as the main contact mechanism.

Fig. 6. Running-in effect in (a) dual-phase steel DP600 and (b) aluminium alloy
Fig. 8. Effect of the number of sliding passes in the aluminium wear track surface
morphology for the D3/AA1100 pair: (a) 1 pass; (b) 3 passes and (c) 5 passes.

boundary lubrication was the expected regime. In this lubrication

regime, friction is signicantly dependent on the roughness.
3.3. Effect of running-in

Fig. 7. Evolution of the friction coefcient for the pairs D3/DP600 D3/AA1100 with
the number of passes.

Load scanning was used to investigate the evolution of the friction in multi-pass tests. Two pairs of material were investigated
in this study: AISI D3 cylinders against DP600 sheet steel and AISI
D3 cylinders against aluminium alloy 1100. To verify the runningin effect multi-pass tests are made from one to ve passes in the
same track. The roughness of the AISI D3 cylinder was always
Ra = 0.27 m and Rz = 2.48 m.
Both materials tested reveal a reduction of the friction coefcient with the increasing of the number of passes, Fig. 6. Fig. 6a and


L. Figueiredo et al. / Wear 271 (2011) 16511657

Table 5
Draw-bead test conditions to study lubrication effect.
Sliding speed [mm/s]

Dynamic viscosity [mPa s]

H [m]




Fig. 9. Effect of the number of sliding passes in the spectra of the aluminium roughness proles for the D3/AA1100 pair (AR - as-received AA1100 sheet).

b displays the evolution of the tests corresponding to the 1st and

5th passes respectively for the pair D3/DP600 and D3/Al1100.
A signicant decrease of the friction coefcient has been veried in both cases; however the pair D3/AA1100 demonstrated a
stronger reduction. In fact the friction coefcient tends to be very
small after the rst four passes, Figs. 6a and b and 7. Blau [34]
identied several parameters contributing to the running-in phenomenon. Among them, roughness is one of the most important,
especially on boundary-lubricated contacts, as is the present case.
In fact observing the wear tracks obtained in the AA1100 surface
after the 1st, 3rd and 5th passes, Fig. 8, it is clear that abrasion is
the main wear mechanism involved and that the surface becomes
smoother with the increase in the number of passes. To understand
this effect, the spectra of the roughness proles were analysed for
the as-received AA1100 sheet and on the wear track after the 1st
and 3rd passes, Fig. 9. By these results one can conclude that the
running-in effect is strongly effective in the reduction of the roughness, especially the higher wavelength components. Furthermore,
the running-in effect occurs predominantly in the rst pass. This
strong and quick effect of running-in could be inuenced by the
higher value of pressure resulting from the point-contact geometry. The present study was restricted to the running-in effect of the
metal sheet; therefore, the results can only be used for understanding the cases where the sheet contacts several times with the tool,
as is the case of progressive metal forming.
3.4. Effect of lubrication regime
Sheet metal forming operations involve a wide range of contact
pressures and relative sliding speeds. Therefore, considering lubricated contacts, which is the current practice, the friction depends
strongly on both surface and oil properties. The Stribeck curve is the
usual way to analyse the evolution of the friction coefcient according to both operation parameters and lubricant characteristics. The
Stribeck curve plots the coefcient of friction as a function of the
Hersey parameter H, dened as H = v/p, where  is the dynamic
viscosity of the lubricant, v the speed and p the apparent contact

Fig. 10. Variation of the friction coefcient as a function of the contact conditions
using a Stribeck type curve.

Especially important for metal forming is to know the transition

conditions boundary/mixed/hydrodynamic lubrication regimes. To
obtain a wide range of the Hersey parameter, as well as the stamping oil, three parafnic industrial mineral oils were used and the
test speed was ranged from 1 to 8.3 mm/s. Table 5 summarises the
test conditions and the obtained Stribeck curve is plotted in Fig. 10.

4. Conclusions
Tribological characteristics involved in sheet metal forming
have been investigated using two experimental approaches: a loadscanning type tester and a recently developed draw-bead type
device. The following conclusions can be drawn from this study:
1. Comparing the results obtained by both experimental techniques load scanning always produced lower friction values. This
difference could be due to the highest contact pressure on the
load-scanning test.
2. Roughness of the die material has a signicant effect on the friction coefcient.
3. A signicant effect of reduction of friction by the running-in
effect has been achieved by multi-pass load-scanning tests. The
reduction of the friction occurs especially by the attenuation of
the roughness components with high wavelength.

The authors are grateful to the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) for the nancial support for this work
(project PTDC/EMETME/74152/2006).

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