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Wear, 100

(1984)

533

- 541

533

THE LEAST

WEAR

ERNEST

RABINOWICZ Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cam-

Department of Mechanical bridge, MA 02139 (U.S.A.)

Summary Of the four principal types of wear, adhesive wear is the only one which can never be eliminated. The three types of adhesive wear, namely severe wear, moderate wear and burnishing, are described, and the transitions between them are discussed. Burnishing, or material removal on a molecular scale, represents the least possible amount of adhesive wear, but we know little regarding the magnitude of the wear rate and methods of ensuring that a sliding system will operate in the burnishing regime. This is unfortunate because, for many sliding systems, especially those using unlubricated surfaces, there is no likelihood of achieving an acceptable life unless operation of the sliding surfaces in the burnishing regime can be assured.

1. Introduction It is widely recognized that wear causes great damage to material objects of all kinds, although the amount of this damage is in some dispute. A number of published estimates of the annual loss caused by wear to industrialized nations are in the range 0.5% - 1% of their gross national product (GNP) [ 1, 21. Values such as this, amounting in the U.S.A. to U.S. $15 X 10’ - $30 X 10’ year-‘, represent a considerable underestimate, since the annual damage caused by wear to the American automobile alone is about U.S. $58 X log [3]. A value for the total wear damage of 6% of the GNP, currently U.S. $180 X 10’ year-’ in the U.S.A., seems much more realistic, and moreover is in good agreement with values from the U.S.S.R. of 9.5% of the GNP attributable to major equipment overhaul costs [4], a large part of which represents the undoing of the damage done by wear. Since wear constitutes such a severe practical problem there is of course great interest in minimizing it. In this note I plan to discuss the least wear that is feasible in sliding systems, and then to consider what is known about methods of achieving it. Now the two most important forms of wear, namely adhesive and abrasive wear, obey a Holm-Archard relationship [ 5,6] of the type wear volume = wear coefficient X load X distance hardness
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.1o-5 I .f 1O-2 - 10-8 corrosive 10-2 . Typical wear coefficient values for metal-on-metal sliding systems.10-s I solid karicant 1o-5 v+ear 1 xlhesive wear abrasive w2ar 10-3 .10-5 wear surface fracture 1o-4 .10-7 r 1o-2 . 1. brittle fracture 10-4 surface fixtime 18 Fig.

Typical wear coefficient values for ceramic-on-ceramic systems.10-a I I I I 10-2 .1 I .1o-5 polishing lo+ fSArface fatigue ~ ~ 10-7 Fig. . 2.I 10-E 10-2 I I I zdbesive wear abrasive wear lo--@ .10-6 I 1o-2 .I.

The hardness range which is available in practical bearing materials is relatively limited. Figure 1 shows wear coefficients for metals while Fig. and in usual practice only moderate wear and burnishing wear are encountered. namely corrosive and surface fracture wear. Moderate wear occurs with less compatible or with well-lubricated surfaces. clearly an important fact to bear in mind when planning to minimize adhesive wear (i. but in many cases they can be assigned equivalent wear coefficients based on typical observed wear rates. corrosive and surface fracture wear. namely to use hard materials or to achieve a low wear coefficient.e. with highly incompatible metal pairs (or with a hexagonalstructured metal as one of the two surfaces). Since in sliding systems we generally minimize wear by eliminating sizeable amounts of abrasive. A third wear regime. while the wear coefficients are typically in the range 10T6 . and it occurs more readily when the pressure at the interface between the sliding surfaces is low. ranging from a reinforced Teflon with a hardness of 10 kgf mmV2 to boron carbide with a hardness of 3000 kgf mme2. all of which are in principle avoidable.2 pm. burnishing. we then only have adhesive wear to contend with.10T4 and wear particle sizes in the range 200 . With non-metals severe adhesive wear occurs rarely. we have just two ways of minimizing adhesive wear. In metals.e. while wear particle sizes are in the range 20 .10-6. In this case the surfaces take on a burnished appearance and no sizeable wear particles are observed. do not obey eqn. Such sliding systems generally give wear coefficients in the range 10m2 .20 pm. 2.5 orders of magnitude. over roughly 2. All these wear coefficients can then be shown on one chart. The wear coefficient ranges from 10e2 for the adhesive wear of identical metals in a vacuum environment to values of perhaps 10Pg for very well-lubricated incompatible metal pairs [ 71. The pressure should be low and if possible a very good lubricant should be used. severe galling wear occurs when clean or poorly lubricated metal pairs with a high degree of metallurgical compatibility are slid over each other. is encountered in special circumstances. We note with interest that the transition from one wear regime to another. changes in bearing materials which reduce the wear coefficient are much more likely to reduce the wear significantly than are changes in hardness alone).10e8. as the sliding conditions are gradually changed.536 The other principal forms of wear. given that we have a sliding device in which a specified load must be moved a specified distance. (l). Equation (1) indicates that. i.g. Types of adhesive wear In general there are three types of adhesive wear. The wear coefficient can thus cover a range of 7 orders of magnitude. e. often occurs quite . Typical wear coefficients are around lo4 . 2 gives the same information for ceramics.

The burnishing wear regime It should be emphasized from the start that there has been little systematic study of burnishing and the wear coefficients associated with it. An analogous mechanism has been postulated for polishing. In addition. The mechanism of burnishing wear may be deduced if it is assumed that a burnished surface is smooth on a molecular scale and that burnishing is a process of single-molecule removal from the peaks of the asperities. producing a smooth surface. quite divorced from reality and in some respects almost morbid. With metals the sudden change from severe to moderate wear. 3. it will be 3 years before the wear reaches 1 mg.141. This is boiling. the present author is moved to point out that one reason why low wear sliding systems are studied so little is that there seems to be an excessive fascination. There is also a rapid material removal process from a liquid which is heated rapidly.537 abruptly. 121 or a balance between oxidation rate and wear rate [13] have been invoked. In contrast. .9]. which is generally accompanied by a change from a system giving large metallic wear particles to one yielding small oxide particles. Processes such as burnishing and polishing are thus analogous to material removal from a liquid by evaporation. Before discussing this aspect. if in a system giving a wear coefficient of loss. Evaporation is a slow process which proceeds on a molecular scale. so that eventually a perfectly smooth surface remains. It should be noted that there has as yet been no attempt to predict the magnitude of the wear coefficient in the bunching regime from more fundamental parameters. For example. two surfaces of hardness 1000 N mms2 are pressed together with a force of 1 N and slide at a speed of 100 mm s-l. which produces a rough surface. Another reason for the neglect of studies of burnishing is that few people realize that this constitutes a separate and major type of adhesive wear. it is probably appropriate to discuss burnishing wear in some detail. The present author over the years has carried out his fair share of such studies [ 13. Such factors as the attainment of a critical temperature [lo} or oxide thickness [ll. with studies of such highly wearing sliding systems as unlubricated copper sliding on copper. has been much studied [ 8. Indeed. In part this can be explained by the experimental difficulties involved in studying this wear regime. it is not even obvious that the HolmArchard equation governs burnishing wear (and hence that a wear coefficient is an appropriate parameter to use in describing this type of wear) although there is no reason to believe that it does not. research on the factors determining the transition between the low and the burnishing wear regimes has been far more modest. which is the abrasive wear process for producing a smooth surface [ 151.

applicable to a single point contact such as a crossed cylinder system or a pin on a disk. the stronger metals give lower wear coefficients than do the weaker metals. burnishing wear is only observed when moderate adhesive wear is absent. Two equations for this have been derived. Transition between moderate wear and burnishing wear Indications are that the process of burnishing wear (i. not enough data are available for a judgment to be made as to whether. The observed critical forces (i. high melting temperature.) Figures 1 and 2 give typical burnishing wear coefficient values (10 -’ for ceramics and lo-’ for metals) and it is seen that ceramics do indeed give lower wear coefficient values than do metals. One. high latent energy of evaporation and low coefficient of expansion. over which the junctions are uniformly distributed. we find a critical normal force L of 0. burnishing observed at normal forces below the critical) are generally rather smaller than this.e. states that the critical normal force L at the transition obeys the relationship L = 7r x 10s -W*b2 P where Wab is the surface energy of adhesion and p is the hardness of the softer surface [ 161. Given clean metal surfaces with values of Wab of low3 N mm-‘. However. This equation is reasonably well obeyed in practice. However.31 N. Hence. and the transition occurs at the point where the occurrence of moderate adhesive wear becomes minimal. among metals. 4. while a weaker solid such as a metal would give a higher wear coefficient. We would anticipate that a strong solid such as a ceramic in which the molecules are firmly bonded to each other would tend to give a low wear coefficient. the removal of material on a molecular scale) always occurs during sliding. and p values of lo3 N mm-*. For two surfaces with a sizeable apparent area of contact. especially when noble metals are used.538 We can make some qualitative statements about the magnitude of the wear coefficient in the burnishing mode if it is assumed that burnishing represents evaporation and is stimulated by the sliding action which provides extra energy to the surface molecules. the apparent stress u at the transition is given by . (A strong solid is one with high hardness.05 N. typically 0. it is swamped by the process of moderate adhesive wear if this also occurs.e.

and for metals of medium hardness is typically 1. Surfaces operating in this wear regime are capable of giving very low wear coefficient values. has been summarized. (around 10e6) and hence exceptionally high critical stresses for operations in the burnishing regime. is the wear coefficient in the burnishing wear regime and lz. but we know too little about the circumstances in which burnishing occurs and these low wear coefficients may be obtained.6 N mmm2 (200 lbf ine2). given the great economic importance of wear. the piston ring. is the wear coefficient for moderate wear [ 171. and assume that the engine is worn out by the time that the radial wear of the ring reaches 0. This equation has not been widely tested. However. Let us concentrate on one component. let us take the all-ceramic internal combustion engine. both of which have exceptionally low values of k. For a typical metallic system where kb = lo-’ and Iz. this is a fallacious way of looking into the situation. the practical use of our discussion lies in the fact that many sliding systems can only be operated in a commercially successful manner if the wear coefficient is very low. When put into these terms. = 10m5. In this case. hardly any discussion of a wear problem is without some practical value. but it does correctly indicate that it is easier to achieve burnishing with metal pairs such as cobalt against cobalt or nickel against silver. The main problem with this equation is that it gives no indication of what happens in practical systems which are designed to operate eventually at low apparent stresses but which start out initially with contacts made over a limited portion of the total interface. or will it not? 5. We may write Archard’s equation in the form depth of wear = k X apparent stress X distance of sliding hardness (4) . Typically. the question of whether or not burnishing occurs seems to be an academic discussion of an esoteric topic. and burnishing wear is probably the only way of reaching such low wear values. thus constituting a number of high stress contacts.. it is hoped to develop an engine which needs no lubricant and has a life of about 400 000 km. namely burnishing wear. For example. e. an approximate calculation based on the features of typical engines can readily be carried out.1 mm. Will such a system run itself into the burnishing regime.g.539 where 1z. Discussion In the above sections our limited quantitative knowledge of the low wear form of adhesive wear. lo-’ or less. the critical apparent stress is l/600 of the hardness stress. While an exact wear calculation of course depends on the detailed design of a specific engine. currently under active development in numerous laboratories and institutions around the world.

London.160. Proc. Investigation of this question is a problem for future research. Lubricated wear. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In M. 8 J. on Solid Lubricants.8. F. N. Quinn and J. Peterson. 3 E.7 (Center for Advanced Engineering Study. Proc. J. New York.39. In W. 1977.109. Thickness effects using cupric oxide as solid lubricant for copper. IL. The wear of metals under unlubricated conditions. American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Znt. Ser. Zampatin. 6 J. Section 40. or whether one might have sliding without wear. 143 . L. P. Friction Wear. Wear Control Handbook. On substitution in eqn. However. Rhee (eds. 1983. 10 T. Glaeser. Sou. 1981. pp. 3rd Znt. so that the ring can withstand the pressure generated in the combustion chamber. or 10” mm. Ludema and S. Sullivan. Rabinowicz. T. Metallurgical Aspects of Wear. As we have seen above (Fig. we find that k must be 3 X lo-* (or less). Almquist and Wiksells. Conf. 2) this value can be achieved in the case of ceramic sliding systems only in the burnishing regime. 1977. Lee. 4 I. 1980. American Society of Lubrication Engineers. M. generally fall far short of meeting their targeted life performance. some room temperature evaporation rates of solids are so small as to be negligible and perhaps some burnishing wear rates are negligible also. New York. 110 . J. Holm. 9 M. We should not be surprised to learn that unlubricated ceramic engines. Education and Research.540 The average apparent stress at the piston ring-cylinder interface must be about 0. B. Electric Contacts. Park Ridge. S. Oberursel. Tribology: economic importance and BMFT sponsorship. A question which comes up from time to time is whether adhesive wear is always present when we have sliding. 1 . Kragelskii. 3 (1960) 101 . 24 (1953) 981 988.407.410. 1946.115. Stockholm. Frictional characteristics of cobalt. The distance of sliding of the piston ring is typically one-quarter that of the automobile. Sot. S. Winer (eds. S7. nickel and iron as influenced by their surface oxide films. E. Lubrication of metal surfaces by oxide films. Deutsche Gesellschaft fiir Metallkunde. 1984. N. F. 7 C. 13 E. on Wear ofMaterials. . ASLE Trans. 236 (1956) 397 .35. Tribology in the higher school. 10 (1967) 400 .. American Society of Mechanical Engineers. p. F. Hirst. Paterson and C.).. ASLE Trans. Archard. Zapf. Video Course Manual. Archard and W. Sliding characteristics of metals at high temperatures. 11 R. Sankaran.. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. 1966. Appl. pp. The hardness of the ceramic is likely to be about 2 X lo4 N mmP2. Cambridge. 2 J. 6 (1963) 29 . in the same way that evaporation from a solid is inevitable. 0. Hansen. 12 E. J.). C. Tribology II. 2 (3) (1982) 31 . V. (4). 5 R. Rabinowicz and S. ASLE Trans.7 N mm-2. A review of oxidational wear. Contact and rubbing of flat surfaces. Phys. K.. Conf. Foley. The above discussion suggests that severe wear and moderate wear are indeed preventable but that burnishing wear is inevitable. Proc. References 1 Lubrication (Tribology). J. MA). B. Rabinowicz. B. A. pp. London. J. Peterson and W. K. Silin and Yu. which generally do not operate in the burnishing regime. R. Florek and R. A. Rowe.

Interdisciplinary Approach to Friction and Wear. SP-181.38. Tabor. 17 E. London. pp. on Surface Technology. Sot. Metallic transfer between sliding metals: an autoradiographic study. Washington. Discussion.). 15 E. NASA Spec. Conf. 1968. Rabinowicz. A. Wiley. Rabinowicz and D. DC). pp. Rabinowicz. New York. 1973. Ku (ed. Proc. 1965.16.475. 16 E. Dearborn. Friction and Wear of Materials. Proc. Ser. Publ. 23 . 304 .308 (National Aeronautics and Space Administration. . In P. M. Society of Manufacturing Engineers. MI. The nature of polished and burnished surfaces.541 14 E. Section 6. R. 208 (1951) 455 . Int. Rabinowicz.