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An Asperity Microcontact Model

Incorporating the Transition


Yongwu Zhao 1
From Elastic Deformation to
Fully Plastic Flow
David M. Maietta
This paper presents an elastic-plastic asperity microcontact model for contact between
two nominally flat surfaces. The transition from elastic deformation to fully plastic flow of
L. Chang the contacting asperity is modeled based on contact-mechanics theories in conjunction
with the continuity and smoothness of variables across different modes of deformation.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, The relations of the mean contact pressure and contact area of the asperity to its contact
The Pennsylvania State University, interference in the elastoplastic regime of deformation are respectively modeled by
University Park, PA 16802 logarithmic and fourth-order polynomial functions. These asperity-scale equations are
then used to develop the elastic-plastic contact model between two rough surfaces,
allowing the mean surface separation and the real area of contact to be calculated as
functions of the contact load and surface plasticity index. Results are presented for a wide
range of contact load and plasticity index, showing the importance of accurately modeling
the deformation in the elastoplastic transitional regime of the asperity contacts. The
results are also compared with those calculated by the GW and CEB models, showing that
the present model is more complete in describing the contact of rough surfaces.

Introduction tacting asperities deform elastically. For example, Powierza et al.


(1992) attempted to perform an experimental verification of the
It is well recognized that when two nominally smooth surfaces
GW model and found that the model is surprisingly good at
are pressed together, the load is borne by the contacting asperities
predicting elastic contact phenomena. However, when the applied
on both surfaces. Study of the deformation behavior of contacting
load exceeds about half of the yield point load, the results pre-
asperities and accurate modeling of the contact between rough
dicted by the GW model severely deviate from the experimental
surfaces is important for insightful understanding of the mecha-
results.
nisms of friction, wear, lubrication, frictional heating, and electri-
A number of researchers studied rough-surface contacts charac-
cal contact resistance.
terized by plastic deformation of asperities. Abbott and Firestone
The contact of rough surfaces has been studied by many re-
(1933) developed the most widely used model for a fully plastic
searchers. The pioneering contribution to this field was made by
contact, known as the surface microgeometry model. This model
Greenwood and Williamson (1966), who developed a basic elastic
assumes that the deformation of a rough surface against a rigid
contact model (GW model). In their model, a rough surface was
smooth flat is equivalent to the truncation of the undeformed rough
represented by a population of hemispherically-tipped asperities of surface at its intersection with the flat. As a result, the real area of
identical radius of curvature with their height following a Gaussian the contact is simply the geometrical intersection of the flat with
distribution. With a further assumption of elastic (Hertzian) and the original undeformed profile of the rough surface, and the
independent microcontacts between this rough surface and a rigid contact pressure is the flow pressure. Based on the experimental
smooth surface, the relations for the true area of contact and the observations of Williamson and Hunt (1972), Pullen and William-
total load as a function of the separation between the flat and the son (1972) established a volume conservation model for the fully
mean asperity level were derived. The basic asperity GW model plastic contact of rough surfaces. However, these two plastic
has been extended to cover the case of other contact geometries, models may only be suitable for very heavily-loaded contacts.
such as curved surfaces (Greenwood and Tripp, 1967), surfaces To bridge the two extreme approaches of modeling contacts as
with non-uniform radii of curvature of asperity peaks (Whitehouse fully elastic or fully plastic, Chang et al. (1987) put forward an
and Archard, 1970) and (Hisakado, 1974), two rough surfaces with elastic-plastic contact model for rough surfaces on the basis of
misaligned asperities (Greenwood and Tripp, 1971), elliptic pa- volume conservation of plastically deformed asperities (CEB
raboloidal asperities (Bush et al., 1975) and anisotropic surfaces model). The model, based on the same principal assumptions of
(Bush et al., 1979). By numerical comparisons of the GW model the GW model, is applied to the entire deformation range, from
with other more general isotropic and anisotropic models, McCool fully elastic to fully plastic. However, this model has several
(1986) suggested that the GW model, despite its simplicity, can shortcomings. The first one is the discontinuity in the contact load
give good results. However, the GW model has its own limitation at the critical point of the initial yielding. At this point, the average
in that it can only be used in the contact problems of rough contact pressure is allowed to jump from 2/3KH in the elastic
surfaces with low plasticity index, in which the majority of con- regime to KH in the plastic regime, where H is the hardness of the
softer material and K is the maximum contact pressure factor.
1
Visiting Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Automotive Engineering, Tianjin Another shortcoming is that this model allows only two possible
University, Tianjin, China. states of deformation for a contacting asperity, either fully elastic
Contributed by the Tribology Division of THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MECHANICAL or fully plastic; the transition from elastic to plastic deformation is
ENGINEERS and presented at the STLE/ASME Tribology Conference, Orlando, Fl,
October 10 –13, 1999. Manuscript received by the Tribology Division February 1,
not modeled. However, according to Johnson’s (1985) analysis of
1999; revised manuscript received May 19, 1999. Paper No. 99-Trib-21. Associate the indentation of a sphere on a plane, the contact load must be
Technical Editor: M. D. Bryant. increased 400 times from the point of initial yielding to the state of

86 / Vol. 122, JANUARY 2000 Copyright © 2000 by ASME Transactions of the ASME
fully plastic flow, which suggests that the elastoplastic transitional
regime is very long and thus significant. Finally, the results of the
CEB model show that the mean separation is larger and the real
area of contact smaller for the elastic-plastic contact than for the
elastic contact at the same plasticity index and contact load. This
result is contradictory to the experimental results of Powierza et al.
(1992) and physical intuition that the elastic contact should exhibit
a higher stiffness than the elastoplastic contact. Horng (1998)
extended the CEB model to the more general case of elliptic
asperities, but the aforementioned shortcomings were not ad-
dressed. On the other hand, Kucharski et al. (1994) proposed a
model for the contact of rough surfaces based on a finite-element
Fig. 1 Contact of an asperity with a rigid smooth flat
analysis of contact between an elastoplastic sphere and a rigid
plane. Their numerical results show that the CEB model predicts
larger approach and real contact area ratio at the same load. Why
the opposite results are predicted by the CEB model in the two The results obtained by McCool (1986) for anisotropic rough
papers has not been explained as yet and should be clarified. surfaces with random distribution of asperity radii differ negligibly
This paper presents a new elastic-plastic asperity contact model from those of the GW model. The interaction among contacting
for rough surfaces. Its main feature is the modeling of the long asperities and bulk deformation may be important. They are com-
transitional regime from elastic deformation to fully plastic flow. plex problems and, to the authors’ knowledge, have not been
The results of subsequent asperity-contact analyses show that the adequately addressed in previous publications. Efforts are cur-
elastoplastic contact of asperities plays an important part in the rently being made to develop a model which considers asperity
macrocontact behavior of rough surfaces. interactions.
Since the contact of two rough surfaces can be represented by
Modeling the model of an equivalent single rough surface in contact with a
smooth surface, only the contact between a rough surface and a
The following assumptions are made in the asperity contact rigid smooth flat is considered. The formulation of the model is
model to be developed: first presented for the contact of a single asperity and then ex-
1. The asperity distribution is isotropic. tended to the contact of surfaces with many asperities.
2. Asperities are, at least near their summits, spherical. 1 Contact of a Single Asperity With a Rigid Smooth Sur-
3. Asperity summits have a uniform radius R, but their heights face. Consider the contact between one asperity and a rigid
vary randomly. smooth flat, as shown in Fig. 1. Let z and d stand for the height of
4. The interactions among contacting asperities are neglected. the asperity and the mean separation between the two surfaces,
5. Only the asperities deform during contact and no bulk respectively. Then, the contact interference is given by
deformation occurs.
␻⫽z⫺d (1)
These assumptions are essentially the same as those made in the
GW and CEB models. Successive research on asperity-based mod- The interference ␻ is an important variable that measures the
els has shown that assumptions (1), (2) and (3), despite their extent of the asperity deformation. The contact pressure and con-
extreme simplicity, do not greatly limit the generality of the model. tact area of the asperity are fully determined by this interference.

Nomenclature
A e ⫽ elastic contact area of an asperity K ⫽ maximum contact pressure factor y *s ⫽ y s / ␴
A ep ⫽ elastoplastic contact area of an N ⫽ total number of asperities z ⫽ height of asperity measured from
asperity Pa ⫽ mean contact pressure the mean of asperity heights
A p ⫽ plastic contact area of an asperity Pm ⫽ maximum contact pressure z* ⫽ dimensionless height of asperity,
A et ⫽ elastic contact area of two rough R ⫽ radius of curvature of an asperity z/ ␴
surfaces we ⫽ elastic contact load of an asperity ␤ ⫽ ␩R␴
A ept ⫽ elastoplastic contact area of two w ep ⫽ elastoplastic contact load of an ␩ ⫽ area density of asperities
rough surfaces asperity ␯ 1,2 ⫽ Poisson’s ratios
A pt ⫽ plastic contact area of two rough wp ⫽ plastic contact load of an asperity ␴ ⫽ standard deviation of surface
surfaces wy ⫽ critical contact load at the point heights
A n ⫽ nominal contact area of two rough of initial yield ␴ s ⫽ standard deviation of asperity
surfaces wf ⫽ critical contact load at the point heights
A t ⫽ total real area of contact, A et ⫹ of fully plastic flow ␾ ⫽ distribution function of asperity
A ept ⫹ A pt W et ⫽ elastic contact load of two rough heights
d ⫽ separation based on asperity surfaces ␾* ⫽ dimensionless distribution function
heights W ept ⫽ elastoplastic contact load of two ␺ ⫽ plasticity index
d* ⫽ dimensionless mean separation, rough surfaces ␻ ⫽ interference
h/ ␴ W pt ⫽ plastic contact load of two rough ␻* ⫽ dimensionless interference, ␻/␴
E⬘ ⫽ equivalent Young’s modulus surfaces ␻ 1 ⫽ critical interference at the point of
H ⫽ hardness of softer material Wt ⫽ total contact load, W et ⫹ W ept ⫹ initial yield
h ⫽ separation based on surface W pt ␻*1 ⫽ ␻ 1/␴
heights ys ⫽ distance between the mean of ␻ 2 ⫽ critical interference at the point of
h* ⫽ dimensionless mean separation, asperity heights and that of sur- fully plastic flow
h/ ␴ face heights ␻*2 ⫽ ␻ 2/␴
k ⫽ mean contact pressure factor

Journal of Tribology JANUARY 2000, Vol. 122 / 87


The asperity will experience three distinct deformation stages as ␻ Or

冉 冊 冉 冊
increases: elastic, elastic-plastic and fully plastic. The following
sections develop formulations for the mean contact pressure and 3␲H 2
4 3 ␲ kH 2
␻2 ⬎ R⫽ R (13)
real area of contact of the asperity as functions of ␻ during the 2E k2 4E
three deformation stages.
Substituting Eq. (8) into the above expression yields,
(1) Elastic Contact. The asperity deforms elastically when ␻
is sufficiently small. According to the Hertz theory for the elastic ␻ 2 ⬎ 4 ␻ 1 /k 2 (14)
contact of a flat with a sphere of radius R (Timoshenko and With k ⫽ 0.4, one obtains
Goodier, 1951), the contact area A e , contact load w e , maximum
contact pressure P m and mean contact pressure P a of the asperity ␻ 2 ⬎ 25 ␻ 1 (15)
can be expressed in terms of ␻ as
Inequality (15) suggests that the interference required to produce
Ae ⫽ ␲R␻ (2) fully plastic flow of the asperity is at least 25 times that at initial
yielding.
w e ⫽ 共 34 兲ER 1/2 ␻ 3/2 (3) The minimum value of ␻ 2 may also be further estimated using
experimental results. Based on the work of Johnson (1985), fully
P m ⫽ 共2E/ ␲ 兲共 ␻ /R兲 1/2 (4) plastic deformation occurs when the contact force at fully plastic
deformation, w f , is about equal to 400 times that at initial yielding,

Pa ⫽
2
3
Pm ⫽
4E
3␲ 冉冊 ␻
R
1/2
(5)
w y . Or,
w f /w y ⫽ 400 (16)
It was shown by Tabor (1951) that, when the maximum Hertz Using Eq. (3), which is valid for elastic contact, the following
contact pressure reaches P m ⫽ 0.6H, or, the average contact expressions are obtained for w f and w y :
pressure P a ⫽ 0.4H, the initial yielding occurs. For a more
general form we can correlate the mean contact pressure P a at the w y ⫽ 共 34 兲ER 1/2 ␻ 13/2 (17)
point of initial yielding with the hardness by
and
p a ⫽ kH (6)
w f ⱕ 共 34 兲ER 1/2 ␻ 23/2 (18)
The critical interference, ␻ 1, at the point of initial yielding can be
expressed in terms of the parameters of the contacts. Equation (5) Dividing inequality (18) by Eq. (17) yields
is rewritten to give
共 ␻ 2 / ␻ 1 兲 3/2 ⱖ w f /w y ⫽ 400 (19)
␻⫽
3␲pa
4E 冉 冊 2
R (7) Or
␻ 2 ⱖ 54 ␻ 1 (20)
Then, substituting Eq. (6) into Eq. (7), yields
This expression suggests that the contact interference at the onset
␻1 ⫽ 冉
3 ␲ kH
4E 冊 2
R (8)
of fully plastic deformation would be at least 54 times that at initial
yielding.

When ␻ ⬍ ␻ 1, the contact is elastic. When ␻ ⱖ ␻ 1, the contact is (3) Elastoplastic Contact. When the interference is between
either elastoplastic or fully plastic. ␻ 1 and ␻ 2, i.e., ␻ 1 ⬍ ␻ ⬍ ␻ 2, the asperity deforms elastoplasti-
cally. Since the total deformation is composed of a mixture of the
(2) Fully Plastic Contact. When ␻ is increased to another elastic and plastic deformations in this stage, the relations for the
critical value ␻ 2 at which the mean contact pressure P a of the contact area A ep and mean contact pressure P a as functions of the
asperity reaches the value of H, fully plastic deformation occurs. interference ␻ become complex. The functional relations are mod-
During the stage of fully plastic deformation (␻ ⱖ ␻ 2), the mean eled below based on results from other researchers in conjunction
contact pressure P a remains constant at H. Or with insights into the physical nature of the asperity contact.
First, the relation between P a and ␻ is derived. Francis (1976)
Pa ⫽ H (9) presented the following function for the contact in the elastoplastic
transitional regime based on a statistical analysis of spherical
The contact area, according to Abbott and Firestone (1933), is indentations:
equal to the geometrical intersection of the flat with the original
undeformed profile of the asperity. Or Pa h/b
⫽ C 1 ⫹ C 2 ln (21)
YR Y R /E
Ap ⫽ 2␲R␻ (10)
where P a is the mean contact pressure, Y R the unaxial flow stress
The contact load w p of the asperity is equal to the contact area of the material, h the displacement of the contact center, b the
multiplied by the mean contact pressure. Or radius of the contact area, and C 1 and C 2 are the regression
constants. Equation (21) suggests a logarithmic relationship be-
wp ⫽ 2␲R␻H (11)
tween the contact pressure P a and the geometrical parameter h/b.
While no solid expression for ␻ 2 is known, the minimum value Therefore, the dependence of P a on ␻ in the regime of the
of this critical contact interference may be estimated based on a elastoplastic deformation of the asperity may analogously be char-
simple analysis. At ␻ ⫽ ␻ 2, the load carried by the contact is equal acterized by the following logarithmic function:
to 2 ␲ R ␻ 2 H by Eq. (11). On the other hand, the load carried by the
P a ⫽ a 1 ⫹ a 2 ln 共 ␻ /a兲 (22)
contact at ␻ ⫽ ␻ 2, had it been elastic, would be equal to ( 34) ER 1/ 2 ⫻
␻ 23/ 2 by Eq. (3). Therefore, the following inequality is established: where a 1 and a 2 are two constants to be determined and a is the
contact radius of the asperity. The ratio ␻ /a corresponds to the
2 ␲ R ␻ 2 H ⬍ 共 34 兲E 1/2 ␻ 3/2 (12) geometrical parameter h/b for the case of spherical indentation.

88 / Vol. 122, JANUARY 2000 Transactions of the ASME


The relation between a and ␻ within the transitional regime may
be established from the a ⫺ ␻ relations for the two extremes of
elastic and fully plastic deformations. These two relations are
respectively given by (Johnson, 1985),
a ⫽ 共 ␻ R兲 1/2 共 ␻ ⱕ ␻ 1兲 (23)

a ⫽ 共2 ␻ R兲 1/2
共 ␻ ⱖ ␻ 2兲 (24)
Therefore, when the asperity deforms elasto-plastically, the fol-
lowing relation is expected
a ⫽ 共C ␻ R兲 1/2 (25)
where C is a variable coefficient having a value between one and
two. Substituting Eq. (25) into Eq. (22), the mean contact pressure
P a may be expressed as:
Fig. 2 Relation between the real area of contact and interference in the
P a ⫽ a 3 ⫹ a 4 ln ␻ (26) elastoplastic transitional regime

where a 3 (⫽a 1 ⫹ a 2 ln C ⫺ 0.5a 2 ln R) and a 4 (⫽0.5a 2 ) are


the functional parameters to be determined.
The continuity between P a and ␻ requires that the mean contact
pressure P a in the elastoplastic transitional regime be equal to that in the ␻ ⫺ ␻1
elastic regime at ␻ ⫽ ␻1. It also requires P a to be equal to the fully plastic x⫽ (33)
␻2 ⫺ ␻1
contact pressure at ␻ ⫽ ␻2. Then Eqs. (6), (9), and (26) lead to
The function output must then be scaled by the distance between
a 3 ⫹ a 4 ln ␻ 1 ⫽ kH (27) the top and bottom of the quadrilateral on the A ep ⫺ ␻ plane,
which represent the asperity contact areas at the fully plastic and
and fully elastic states. The scaled function is translated by adding it to
a 3 ⫹ a 4 ln ␻ 2 ⫽ H (28) the fully elastic A e ⫺ ␻ function, as shown in Fig. 2. The
transformation results in the following expression:
By simultaneously solving Eqs. (27) and (28), the parameters a 3
and a 4 in Eq. (26) are determined in terms of the properties of the A ep ⫽ ␲ R ␻ ⫹ 共2 ␲ R ␻ ⫺ ␲ R ␻ 兲

冋 冉 冊 冉 冊册
contact to give
␻ ⫺ ␻1 3
␻ ⫺ ␻1 2
⫻ ⫺2 ⫹3 (34)
ln ␻ 2 ␻2 ⫺ ␻1 ␻2 ⫺ ␻1
a 3 ⫽ H ⫺ H共1 ⫺ k兲 (29)
ln ␻ 2 ⫺ ln ␻ 1
This expression is then algebraically simplified to yield the desired
and A ep ⫺ ␻ function through the elastoplastic transitional regime:

H共1 ⫺ k兲
冋 冉 ␻ ⫺ ␻1
冊 冉 ␻ ⫺ ␻1
冊册
3 2

a4 ⫽ (30) A ep ⫽ ␲ R ␻ 1 ⫺ 2 ⫹3 (35)
ln ␻ 2 ⫺ ln ␻ 1 ␻2 ⫺ ␻1 ␻2 ⫺ ␻1
Therefore, the relation between the mean contact pressure and the Equation (35) is a fourth-order polynomial in ␻. It satisfies the four
contact interference in the regime of the elastoplastic deformation boundary conditions and is a monotonically increasing function
is given by within ␻ 1 ⱕ ␻ ⱕ ␻ 2.
Finally, using Eqs. (31) and (35), the contact load (w ep ⫽
ln ␻ 2 ⫺ ln ␻ P a A ep ) of the asperity in the regime of elastoplastic deformation
P a ⫽ H ⫺ H共1 ⫺ k兲 (31)
ln ␻ 2 ⫺ ln ␻ 1 can be expressed as a function of the interference by
Next, the relation between contact area A ep and contact inter-
ference ␻ is derived. This relation may be modeled by a polyno- 冋
w ep ⫽ H ⫺ H共1 ⫺ k兲 册
ln ␻ 2 ⫺ ln ␻
ln ␻ 2 ⫺ ln ␻ 1

冋 冉 冊 冉 冊册
mial smoothly joining the expressions for A e and A p as functions
of ␻. The domain of the polynomial is from ␻ 1 to ␻ 2. It should ␻ ⫺ ␻1 3
␻ ⫺ ␻1 2
⫻ 1⫺2 ⫹3 ␲R␻ (36)
monotonically increase and satisfy four boundary conditions: ␻2 ⫺ ␻1 ␻2 ⫺ ␻1
A ep ⫽ A e , dA ep /d ␻ ⫽ dA e /d ␻ at ␻ ⫽ ␻ 1 and A ep ⫽ A p ,
dA ep /d ␻ ⫽ dA p /d ␻ at ␻ ⫽ ␻ 2. The function may be easily
2 Contact of Two Rough Surfaces. The above theory for
constructed by mapping an appropriate “template” cubic polyno-
the contact of one asperity with a rigid smooth flat may be used to
mial segment into the quadrilateral bounding the transition region
model the elastic-plastic contact between two rough surfaces. If
on the A ep ⫺ ␻ plane, as shown in Fig. 2. This template curve is
there are N asperities on a nominal area A n , the expected number
defined by
of asperity contacts will be

冕 冕
y ⫽ ⫺2x 3 ⫹ 3x 2 (32) ⬁ ⬁

and is to be bounded by a square defined by x ⫽ 0, x ⫽ 1, y ⫽ n⫽N ␾ 共z兲dz ⫽ ␩ A n ␾ 共z兲dz (37)


0, and y ⫽ 1. The curve passes through the lower left and upper d d
right corners of its bounding box and is tangent to the lower and where ␩ is the area density of asperities and ␾(z) the probability density
upper edges of the box at these points. Consequently, the template of the height distribution of the asperities. The total real area of contact A t
curve, when transformed, will satisfy the four stated boundary and load W t are the sum of the contribution of each individual asperity
conditions. The transformation involves translating and scaling ␻ over all the microcontacts. These individual contributions may be calcu-
so that ␻ ⫽ ␻ 1 and ␻ ⫽ ␻ 2 correspond to x ⫽ 0 and x ⫽ 1, lated by using Eqs. (2) and (3) when ␻ ⬍ ␻1, Eqs. (35) and (36) when
respectively: ␻1 ⱕ ␻ ⬍ ␻2, and Eqs. (10) and (11) when ␻ ⱖ ␻2, for the particular

Journal of Tribology JANUARY 2000, Vol. 122 / 89


asperity in question. Then, for a given mean separation of the surfaces, the Table 1 Surface topographical parameters and plasticity
total real area of contact and load may be calculated by indices
␴ /R ␤ ␺
A t 共d兲 ⫽ A et 共d兲 ⫹ A pt 共d兲 ⫹ A ept 共d兲
⫺4
1.60 ⫻ 10

冕 冕
0.0339 0.7
d⫹ ␻ 1 ⫹⬁ 3.02 ⫻ 10 ⫺4 0.0414 1.0
⫽N A e ␾ 共z兲dz ⫹ N A p ␾ 共z兲dz 6.576 ⫻ 10 ⫺4 0.0476 1.5
1.144 ⫻ 10 ⫺3 0.0541 2.0
d⫹ ␻ 2
d
1.77 ⫻ 10 ⫺3 0.0601 2.5

⫹N 冕 d⫹ ␻ 2
A ep ␾ 共z兲dz

冉冊 冕
d⫹ ␻ 1
␴ 1/2 h*⫺y s*⫹ ␻ 1*

冕 冕
Wt 4
d⫹ ␻ 1 ⬁ W *t ⫽ ⫽ ␤ ␻ * 3/2 ␾ *共z*兲dz*
A nE 3 R
⫽ ␩ A n␲ R ␻␾ 共z兲dz ⫹ 2 ␩ A n ␲ R ␻␾ 共z兲dz h*⫺y s*


d d⫹ ␻ 2
2␲H␤ ⬁

冕 冋 冉 冊
⫹ ␻ * ␾ *共z*兲dz*
d⫹ ␻ 2
␻ ⫺ ␻1 3
E
⫹ ␩ A n␲ R ␻ 1⫺2 h*⫺y s*⫹ ␻ 2*
␻2 ⫺ ␻1

冕 冋 册
d⫹ ␻ 1
␲H␤ h*⫺y s*⫹ ␻2*
ln ␻ *2 ⫺ ln ␻ *
⫹3 冉
␻ ⫺ ␻1
␻2 ⫺ ␻1 冊册 2
␾ 共z兲dz (38)

E
h⫺y s*⫹ ␻1*
1 ⫺ 共1 ⫺ k兲
ln ␻ *2 ⫺ ln ␻ *1

冋 冉 ␻ * ⫺ ␻ *1
冊 冉 ␻ * ⫺ ␻ *1
冊册
3 2
and ⫻ 1⫺2 ⫹3
␻ *2 ⫺ ␻ *1 ␻ *2 ⫺ ␻ *1
W t 共d兲 ⫽ W et 共d兲 ⫹ W pt 共d兲 ⫹ W ept 共d兲 ⫻ ␻ * ␾ *共z*兲dz* (41)

⫽N 冕 d
d⫹ ␻ 1
w e ␾ 共z兲dz ⫹ N 冕 ⫹⬁

d⫹ ␻ 2
w p ␾ 共z兲dz
where
␤ ⫽ ␩␴ R (42)

冕 d⫹ ␻ 2
␻ * ⫽ z* ⫺ h* ⫹ y *s (43)
⫹N w ep ␾ 共z兲dz The integrals in Eqs. (40) and (41) may be numerically evaluated
d⫹ ␻ 1 with sufficient accuracy using five-point Legendre-Gaussian


quadrature.
d⫹ ␻ 1
4
⫽ ␩ A n ER 1/2 ␻ 3/2 ␾ 共z兲dz
3 Results and Discussion
d
The model developed in this paper is now used to study the

⫹ 2 ␲␩ A n HR 冕 ⬁

d⫹ ␻ 2
␻␾ 共z兲dz
contact behavior of two nominally flat surfaces over a range of
contact load and plasticity index. The results are compared with
those predicted by the GW model and the CEB model. Their
physical implications are also discussed.

⫹ ␩ A n␲ R 冕 冋 d⫹ ␻ 2

d⫹ ␻ 1
H ⫺ H共1 ⫺ k兲
ln ␻ 2 ⫺ ln ␻
ln ␻ 2 ⫺ ln ␻ 1
Contact of steel-on-steel surfaces is considered with Young’s
modulus E 1 ⫽ E 2 ⫽ 2.07 ⫻ 10 11 Pa, Brinell hardness H ⫽
1.96 ⫻ 10 9 Pa and Poisson’s ratio ␯ 1 ⫽ ␯ 2 ⫽ 0.29. The distri-
bution of the asperity heights is assumed to be Gaussian and is

冋 冉 ␻ ⫺ ␻1
冊 冉 ␻ ⫺ ␻1
冊册
3 2
given, in dimensionless form, by
⫻ 1⫺2 ⫹3 ␻␾ 共z兲dz (39)
␻2 ⫺ ␻1 ␻2 ⫺ ␻1 ␾ *共z*兲 ⫽ 共2 ␲ 兲 ⫺1/2 共 ␴ /R兲 exp关⫺0.5共 ␴ / ␴ s 兲 2 z* 2 兴 (44)
Equations (38) and (39) may be normalized by dividing by A n and The surface roughness is described by two parameters, ␤ and ␴ /R.
A n E, respectively. Furthermore, all the length parameters and Table 1 presents the values of ␤ and ␴ /R of different surface
variables in the equations are normalized by ␴. The resulting topographies. These values, taken from the experimental observa-
dimensionless equations are given by tion of Nuri and Halling (1975) for typical engineering surfaces,
were also used in the analysis of CEB model (Chang et al., 1987).

A *t ⫽
At
An
⫽ ␲␤ 冕 h*⫺y s*⫹ ␻ 1*

h*⫺y s*
␻ * ␾ *共z*兲dz*
The surface roughness may also be characterized by the plasticity
index, which is related to the two parameters and material con-
stants of the contact members by (Chang et al., 1987):

⫹ 2 ␲␤ 冕 ⬁
␻ * ␸ 共z*兲dz
␺⫽
2E
1.5 ␲ kH 冉冊 冉 ␴
R
1/2
1⫺
3.717 ⫻ 10 ⫺4
␤2 冊 1/4
(45)

h*⫺y s*⫹ ␻ 2*
The value of k is taken to be 0.4 to be consistent with other

冕 冋 冉 冊
researchers. Then the plasticity index of the contact system can be
h*⫺y s*⫹ ␻ 2*
␻ * ⫺ ␻ *1 3
calculated and is also given in Table 1 along with the correspond-
⫹ ␲␤ 1⫺2
␻ *2 ⫺ ␻ *1 ing ␤ and ␴ /R. The critical contact interference at the point of fully
h*⫹y s*⫹ ␻ 1*
plastic flow of the asperity, ␻ 2, is taken to be 54␻ 1 based on Eq.
⫹3 冉 ␻ * ⫺ ␻ *1
␻ *2 ⫺ ␻ *1 冊 2
␻ * ␾ *共z*兲dz* (40)
(20).
Figure 3 shows the ratio of the contact area contributed by the

90 / Vol. 122, JANUARY 2000 Transactions of the ASME


With ␺ ⫽ 0.7, the contact area predicted by the present model is
almost identical to that predicted by the GW elastic model, but
slightly larger at higher load, as expected. The CEB model, on the
other hand, predicts a smaller contact area than does the GW
model as the load increases. Thus, the CEB model appears once
again to give physically unreasonable results since the asperity
yielding would require increased contact area to support a given
contact load than otherwise. At ␺ ⫽ 1.5 and 2.5, the contact area
predicted by the present model is shown to increasingly deviate
from that by the GW model, especially for higher plasticity index
combined with heavier load. It should be pointed out that the
difference in the area given by the present and GW models is
larger than one might perceive from the figure, as it is plotted on
a log scale. For example, with ␺ ⫽ 2.5 and W t /A n E ⫽ 10 ⫺3 , the
present model gives A t /A n ⫽ 8.31 ⫻ 10 ⫺2 while the GW model
gives A t /A n ⫽ 5.53 ⫻ 10 ⫺2 , a 50% increase in the real area of
Fig. 3 Area of elastoplastic asperity contacts as a function of load and contact due to plastic deformations of the asperities. The data in
plasticity index Fig. 4 also show that the contact area predicted by the CEB model
reverses its trend against the values from the other two models as

asperity contacts undergoing elastoplastic deformation to the total


real area of contact, A ept /A t . The results are presented for a range
of the plasticity index and as a function of the dimensionless
contact load. This area ratio increases with the contact load as well
as with the plasticity index. With a low plasticity index of ␺ ⫽ 0.7,
A ept /A t is very small at light loads but increases rapidly beyond a
certain load level. This result reflects the fact that, for relatively
smooth surfaces, the heights of the asperities are concentrated in a
narrow height range. Consequently, the asperity deformations are
mostly elastic in nature at low loads and then become largely
elastoplastic within a small band of higher load. With a large
plasticity index of ␺ ⬎ 1.5, on the other hand, a large portion of the
asperities undergo elastoplastic deformation at a very low contact
load. The data in Fig. 3 also suggest that, for typical engineering
surfaces of plasticity index ranging from 0.7 to 2.5, most of the
asperities are in the state of elastoplastic deformation and fully
plastic flow is virtually absent even for very rough surfaces of ␺ ⫽
2.5. Thus, accurate modeling of asperity elastoplastic deformation
is important in predicting the contact variables such as the real area
of contact and the mean separation of the surfaces.
Figure 4 shows the calculated dimensionless mean separation of
the surfaces, h/ ␴ , as a function of the dimensionless load, W t /
EA n , for three values of the plasticity index, ␺ ⫽ 0.7, 1.5 and 2.5.
For comparison, the results predicted by the GW and CEB models
are also presented in the figure. With the low plasticity index of
␺ ⫽ 0.7, the surface separation predicted by the present model is
almost identical to that predicted by the GW elastic model for the
entire range of the dimensionless load studied, only slightly lower
at high loads close to W t /EA n ⫽ 10 ⫺3 . This result suggests that the
asperity contacts are mostly elastic or in the very early stage of the
long elastoplastic regime. In contrast, the separation predicted by
the CEB elastic-plastic model departs from the values predicted by
the other two models at high loads, giving a significantly higher
mean separation of the surfaces. This higher separation does not
seem to be physically realistic as the plastic deformation, which is
the main feature of the CEB model, should yield a lower separation
due to the plastic deformation of the contacting asperities. With a
higher plasticity index of ␺ ⫽ 1.5, the separation predicted by the
present model is shown to be lower than that predicted by the GW
model, especially at higher contact loads. This departure becomes
more pronounced for rougher surfaces of ␺ ⫽ 2.5 as the plastic
deformation of the increasing population of asperity contacts in-
tensifies. The separation calculated by the CEB model is almost
always larger than that given by the GW elastic model, and the
difference is most significant at the intermediate plasticity index of
␺ ⫽ 1.5.
Figure 5 presents the calculated real area of contact, A t /A n , as
a function of the dimensionless load, W t /EA n , for the same three
values of the plasticity index. Again, the results obtained using the Fig. 4 Mean separation of the surfaces as a function of load and plas-
GW and CEB models are included for comparison and discussion. ticity index (a) ␺ ⴝ 0.7, (b) ␺ ⴝ 1.5, (c) ␺ ⴝ 2.5

Journal of Tribology JANUARY 2000, Vol. 122 / 91


a large portion of the asperity contacts are under plastic deforma-
tion with p a equal to 0.6H by the CEB model, yet the mean contact
pressures of these asperity contacts calculated by the GW elastic
model are still largely below 0.6H. The discontinuities in p a and
dA/d ␻ of the CEB model also dictate the calculated real area of
contact shown in Fig. 5. With a low plasticity index such as ␺ ⫽
0.70, only a small portion of the asperity contacts become elasto-
plastic even at very high load. Furthermore, these contacts are not
far into the plastic regime, so the contact areas are not significantly
larger than had they been elastic. This fact, in conjunction with a
higher mean surface separation (fewer contacting asperities), ex-
plains why the CEB model predicts smaller real area of contact
than does the GW elastic model at low plasticity index. With a
higher plasticity index, however, more asperity contacts undergo
elastoplastic deformation and the system moves further into the
plastic regime. The excessively rapid increase in the areas of these
contacts is more than enough to compensate for the reduced
number of contacting asperities due to the higher surface separa-
tion, resulting in a larger real area of contact than that given by the
GW model. Nevertheless, the real area of contact calculated by the
CEB model is reasonably close to that given by the present model
for the range of load and plasticity index studied. The coincidental
cancellation of two physically unrealistic effects allows the CEB
model to give reasonable results at higher plasticity index.
It should also be noted that the CEB model predicts smaller
mean separation and larger real area of contact than does the GW
model when plasticity index is extremely high combined with a
high load, as can be seen from Fig. 4(c) and Fig. 5(c). These results
are contrary to statements by Chang et al. (1987) regarding the
mean separation and real area of contact, but qualitatively in
agreement with Kucharski et al. (1994). As a matter of fact, for the
geometry and material properties of the asperities that Kucharski et
al. considered, plastic deformation is the main mode of deforma-
tion, which is equivalent to the case with an extremely high
plasticity index. These facts explain why Chang et al. (1987) and
Kucharski et al. (1994) made two opposite claims regarding the
prediction of the CEB model.

Conclusion
An elastic-plastic asperity microcontact model for rough sur-
faces is presented in this paper. The main feature of the model is
incorporation of the transitional regime from elastic deformation to
fully plastic flow of the asperity. The dependence of the mean
contact pressure and contact area of the asperity on its contact
interference in the elastoplastic transitional regime is modeled by
logarithmic and fourth-order polynomial functions, respectively.
Fig. 5 Real area of contact of the surfaces as a function of load and The relation for the ratio of the elastoplastic contact area versus
plasticity index (a) ␺ ⴝ 0.7, (b) ␺ ⴝ 1.5, (c) ␺ ⴝ 2.5 load is derived. It is shown that the elastoplastic contact of asper-
ities plays an important part in the macrocontact behavior of rough
surfaces. A detailed comparison of the present model with the CEB
model and the GW model is made based on the predicted mean
the plasticity index increases. With ␺ ⫽ 1.5, the area becomes
surface separation and the real area of contact for a wide range of
larger than that predicted by the GW model and is about 10 to 20%
plasticity index and contact load. Smaller mean separation and
below that by the present model. With ␺ ⫽ 2.5, it eventually
larger real area of contact are predicted by the present model than
exceeds results of the present model by about 10% at the load of
the GW model at any given plasticity index and contact load. The
W t /A n E ⫽ 10 ⫺3 .
results are consistent with experimental observation and physical
The physically unreasonable values of the mean surface sepa-
intuition. Based on the results comparison and analysis, the present
ration and real area of contact predicted by the CEB model are
model is shown to be more complete than both the CEB model and
largely caused by the assumption of abrupt transition from elastic
the GW model in describing the elastic-plastic contact phenomena
deformation to fully plastic flow of the asperity. In the CEB model,
between rough surfaces.
the mean contact pressure is assumed to jump from 2/3KH to KH
(from Eqs. (10), (12), and (27) in Chang et al., 1987) when the
mode of the asperity deformation changes. Furthermore, the rate of Acknowledgment
increase of the contact area with respect to the contact interference, This research was financially supported by the Tribology and
dA/d ␻ , is also discontinuous at this point, jumping from ␲ R to Surface Engineering Program, the National Science Foundation
2 ␲ R. As a result of the abrupt increase in mean contact pressure, through Grant CMS-9501877.
the calculated mean separation of the surfaces is higher than those
given by the GW and present models and the difference is most References
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