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Tribology International 40 (2007) 694698

The inuence of surface roughness and the contact pressure distribution on friction in rolling/sliding contacts
L. Xiaoa,b,, S. Bjorklundc, B.G. Rosenb

Chalmers University of Technology, Production Engineering, S-412 96 Go teborg, Sweden b KTH, Machine Design, S-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden c Functional Surfaces Research Group, Halmstad University, Sweden Available online 20 February 2006

Abstract A numerical contact model is used to study the inuence of surface roughness and the pressure distribution on the frictional behaviour in rolling/sliding contacts. Double-crowned roller surfaces are measured and used as input for the contact analysis. The contact pressure distribution is calculated for dry static contacts and the results are compared with friction measurements in a lubricated rolling/sliding contact made with a rough friction test rig. The mean pressure is suggested as a parameter that can be used to predict the inuence of surface roughness on the friction coefcient in such contacts. The results show two important properties of the friction coefcient for the friction regime studied in this paper: (1) there is a linear decrease in friction coefcient as a function of the slide-to-roll ratio, and (2) the friction coefcient increases linearly with increasing mean contact pressure up to a maximum limit above which the friction coefcient is constant. The absolute deviation of experimental results from the derived theory is for most cases within 0.005. r 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Friction; Surface roughness; Contact pressure distribution; Rolling/sliding contacts

1. Introduction Friction between rolling/sliding gear tooth surfaces is one source of power loss in gear transmissions. This underlines the importance of understanding the friction behaviour and the contact mechanics of interacting surfaces for making improvement in fuel economy. Since surface roughness has a signicant effect on contact behaviour, and it is very costly to achieve higher smoothness, the importance of this issue is now brought up through both experimental methods and computational modelling. Based on the experimental methods established by Xiao et al. [1], the effect of surface roughness on lubricated rolling/sliding of ground gear surfaces is investigated. In this study, friction is measured in a lubricated rolling/ sliding contact generated in a rough friction test rig. The
Corresponding author. Chalmers University of Technology, Production Engineering, S-412 96 Goteborg, Sweden. Tel.: +46 31 772 3822; fax: +46 31 772 3819. E-mail address: (L. Xiao).

contacting surfaces are characterised by 3D stylus measurement and 3D roughness parameter evaluation. The experimental results are also compared with a numerical model for contact analyses. The model makes use of a boundary element method, along with measured contact surfaces as data inputs. Contact pressure distributions are calculated for different surfaces and normal loads. The inuence of surface roughness on the pressure distribution for dry static contacts is analysed. 2. Experimental 2.1. Rough friction test rig In this device, two rollers running against each other are designed to simulate the friction force generated in the gear meshing process. It comprises two shafts each with a force and a torque transducer. The input/output torques and forces in all major directions can be recorded simultaneously and displayed on the terminal. The system can sustain a Hertzian mean pressure from 0 to 1000 MPa in the contact between the two rollers. By controlling the

0301-679X/$ - see front matter r 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.triboint.2005.11.021

L. Xiao et al. / Tribology International 40 (2007) 694698 Table 1 3D surface parameters calculated in this study [2,3] Amplitude parameters Sq Root mean square roughness Sa Average roughness Ssk Skewness Spk Reduced peak height Ssc Mean summit curvature Sdq RMS slope Str Texture aspect ratio 695

Hybrid parameters Spatial parameters

Fig. 1. Photograph of the central part of the test rig. The white arrows indicate the rollers and the curved arrow indicates the possibility to run tests with roller axes in different planes.

and 901 tip angle was used. The eld of sampling was 2 2 mm in size with a sampling interval of 10 mm. Raw data were then ltered with 3D high-pass Gaussian ltering with a cut off length of 0.8 mm and levelled with a leastsquare-plane that removed the form of the test roller. Surface measurement data was processed in the Surfascan software. The surface topography assessment in this work has employed the standard 3D parameters displayed in Table 1 [2,3]. 3. Contact modelling The contact computation applies to normally loaded, frictionless, elastic contacts. It works by modelling the interacting bodies as innite half-spaces, and replacing the continuous pressure distribution with a discrete set of elements [4]. This implies that the region of contact is small compared to the size of the bodies. Since high local pressures accompany asperity contacts, these result in plastic deformation even for small contact loads. The model is also modied after this criterion. A brief outline of the method is given below. The contact area is divided into N rectangular cells, each of these being subjected to a uniform unknown pressure. Knowing the gap h between the cells before deformation and the applied normal displacement dz , the solution is obtained from an equation system which written in matrix form becomes Cp dz h  d, (1) where C is the inuence coefcient matrix. Component Cij relates the deformation at cell i due to a unit pressure in cell j. The inuence coefcients for a uniform pressure on a rectangular cell were found by Love [5]. The sizes and shapes of the real contact areas are not known in advance. An initial estimate, which will contain the true contact region, is the contact area obtained if the bodies are allowed to penetrate each other without any interaction. When solving Eq. (1), the pressures at cells outside the true contact regions become negative. These cells are removed and the equation system is solved iteratively until all pressures are positive. In contacts between rough surfaces it is often found that the pressure in some cells is excessively large, implying that

mismatch of rotational speeds, the sliding speed between the driving roller and the driven one can be chosen as required. Fig. 1 shows the central part of the test rig. 2.2. Contact conditions In this study, rough friction tests are performed for a lubricant with a kinematical viscosity equal to 28 cSt at 20 1C. The lubricant is base oil without additives. Friction coefcients were measured for different loads, rolling speeds and surface topographies on three sets of rollers. The normal loads were 50, 100, 150 and 200 N, which gave Hertzian mean pressures between 225 and 350 Mpa. Although this scale does not cover the full range of gear contact loadings, it does coincide with the critical loading ranges in normal gearbox operations. The lower roller was constantly running at 50 rpm while the rotational speed of the upper roller varied between 70 and 350 rpm. This gave relative sliding speeds ranging from 0.24 to 3.6 m/s. The test rollers have a diameter of 230 mm and are crowned with a radius of 115 mm. This means that the rollers have spherical surfaces. The roller surfaces are ground with different roughness levels. All the tests conducted in this work were run with the shafts in a parallel position. The material of the rollers is casehardened steel and the Vickers hardness at the roller surface is about 750 HV. 2.3. Surface characterisation A 3D stylus somicronic surfascan1 was used to measure roller surfaces. It has a vertical resolution of 4 nm and a measurement range of 4 mm. A stylus with 2 mm tip radius

Somicronic, Lyon, France.

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the deformation is plastic rather than elastic. The numerical contact model can use an approximate method to account for plastic deformations by limiting the allowable pressure by a yield pressure PY. This feature is however not used in this work since the rollers are very hard. Also, the ltering of the measured surfaces can have a very strong inuence on the calculated pressure distribution. The geometrical input to the contact calculations in this work was raw data from the topographical measurements ltered with a 2D median lter. Calculations with unltered surfaces were also carried out, but the results were in this case very similar to the ltered results. 4. Results 4.1. Experimental Fig. 2 presents the undulation-dominated (parallel to the direction of movement) 3D topographies measured before the investigation of friction behaviour on rollers used in this study. Fig. 2(a) shows surfaces as measured, Fig. 2(b) depicts surface roughness images after high-pass Gaussian ltering, which removes the form of measured data. Table 2 shows 3D surface parameters calculated for roller surfaces. The level of amplitude parameter Sa is around 1.00 mm for the rough, 0.49 mm for the medium, and 0.23 mm for the smooth surface. The friction measurements are presented in Fig. 3 where the x-axis is the slide-to-roll ratio, which is dened as the ratio between the sliding velocity and the mean velocity v1 v2 x2 , (2) v1 v2 where v is the rollers peripheral velocity and the subscripts refers to the upper and lower roller, respectively. The rough surface shows the highest friction coefcients, followed in descending order by the medium and the smooth. For the given loads, scoring phenomena occurred at the highest

sliding velocities for the medium and the rough surfaces. However, no damages of this type were observed on the smooth surfaces. The lambda-values (the radio between the lm thickness calculated for perfectly smooth surfaces [6] and the combined surface roughness), are below 0.5 in all tested cases, see Fig. 4, which indicates that the contacts are boundary lubricated. The low lambda values justify the use of a dry-contact numerical model for the pressure calculations, since the pressures caused by uid dynamics are insignicant in the boundary lubricated regime. 4.2. Modelling The measurement results in Fig. 3 show that the relation between the friction coefcient and the slide-to-roll ratio is close to linear for all loads and surface topographies. This means that an equation for calculating the friction coefcient as a function of the slide-to-roll ratio can be written in the form: mtheo m0 kx, where m0 and k are constants which are assumed to depend on the contact pressure distribution. In Fig. 5 the measured friction coefcients are plotted against the calculated mean pressures. It can be seen that the friction coefcient increases with increasing mean pressure, but there seems to be an upper limit where the increase stops. This indicates that the friction coefcient is increasing with the mean

Table 2 3D surface parameters calculated for roller surfaces Sa (mm) Rough Medium Smooth 1.00 0.49 0.23 Sq (mm) 1.28 0.86 0.72 Ssk 1.46 1.20 1.97 Ssc (mm) 0.005 0.004 0.002 Sdq 0.06 0.04 0.03 Str 0.10 0.15 0.19 Spk (mm) 0.56 0.44 0.15

Fig. 2. Measured roller surfaces: (a) unltered, (b) Gauss ltered.

L. Xiao et al. / Tribology International 40 (2007) 694698 697

0.1 exp 0.05 0 0.5 0.1 exp 0.05 0 0.5 0.1 exp 0.05 0 0.5



0.12 1 Medium 1.5

50 N 100 N 150 N 200 N


0.1 0.08 0.06 0.04 0.02



1 Smooth


dw=40 rpm dw=70 rpm dw=100 rpm dw=120 rpm 50 N 100 N 150 N 200 N Theory


0 600 700 800 900 1000 1100 1200 1300 1400 1500 1600 Mean pressure [MPa]
Fig. 5. Experimental friction coefcients versus the calculated real mean pressures. Only sliding speeds for which the contact did not score at any load are shown. dw is the relative speed between contact rollers.

Fig. 3. Measurement results. Experimental friction coefcient versus slideto-roll ratio for the three surface topographies and the four normal loads.

0.5 0.45 Lambda=hmin / ((S2q1+S2q2)1/2) 0.4

50 N 100 N 150 N 200 N

Smooth c1=0.078, c2=0.22, c3=0.055, pL=1110 MPa


0.1 0.08 theo 0.06 0.04

50 N 100 N 150 N 200 N Smooth Medium Rough

0.35 0.3 0.25 0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05 0 50 100 150 200 dw [rpm] 250 300 350 0.02 0
Mean error=0.0038 Max error= 0.018 Rough



0.06 0.08 exp




Fig. 4. Lambda values for the three surface topographies and the four normal loads. dw is the relative speed between contact rollers.

Fig. 6. Experimental and theoretical friction coefcients according to Eq. (4) for all normal loads and surface topographies.

contact pressure but only when the pressure is below a maximum limit. It has been found that both m0 and k can be sufciently well described by the mean pressure in the contact ( ) if a p maximum mean pressure (pL) is introduced. The following equation is suggested for calculation of the theoretical friction coefcient: 8 < c1 c2 p c3 p x pL pL : c1 c2 c3 x if pppL ; if pXpL :

worst deviations occur for the medium rough surface when the normal load is low (50 N). It can easily be seen in Fig. 5, which also shows the theoretical results that this case differs from the general trend which can be observed for the other cases. Fig. 5 also implies that there must exist a minimum mean pressure for which Eq. (4) is valid. Otherwise the friction coefcient will become negative as the mean pressure is decreased. 5. Discussion One of the important results from the measurements is that the decrease in friction coefcient with increasing slide-to-roll ratio is close to linear. The slide-to-roll ratio is dened as the ratio between the sliding speed, which is



Fig. 6 presents the experimental and theoretical friction coefcients when Eq. (4) is tted to the experimental results. There are a few points for which the deviation is large but in most cases the deviations are below 0.005. The

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proportional to the power generated in the contact, and the mean velocity, which is inversely proportional to the time it takes for a point on a surface to pass the contact. The slideto-roll ratio can, therefore, be expected to be proportional to the energy input at the interface and as a consequence it is also proportional to the temperature rise in the contact. This raises the question if the boundary layer shear strength is decreasing linearly with increasing temperature. This might be the case but there are presumably other aspects involved, such as elasto-hydrodynamic lubrication on the micro-scale. The effect of micro-EHL can be investigated by examining the inuence of the direction of the surface texture, but that is outside the scope of this paper. Another important result is that the friction coefcient is increasing with the mean pressure in the contact. This behaviour is, however, limited to a maximum mean pressure above which the friction coefcient is constant. This increase is supported by rheological ndings claiming that there exists a limiting shear stress that a lubricating lm can sustain and the level of this limit is increasing linearly with contact pressure [7]. The limiting pressure at which the shear stress limit ceases to increase can be an effect of reduced surface coverage by lubricant molecules, as a result of which metal oxides or other boundary layers carry the load. The friction coefcient then seems to be independent of the normal pressure. This is probably a rather critical running condition where the contact interface is close to failure. The purpose of this work was to investigate if the friction phenomena observed in a rough friction test rig can be explained by means of contact pressure distribution calculations. At this stage, a simple correlation using single contact parameters as the mean pressure is suggested. The mean contact pressure can also be expressed as the ratio between the normal load and the real contact area. It is, therefore, equivalent whether the mean contact pressure or the real contact area is used in the suggested model. However, a more far-reaching model would make use of more information from the calculated contact distributions. A plausible model for the friction coefcient can be written: R R tpx; y; xdx dy mtheo O , (5) F

where tpx; y; x is the local shear stress which here is a function of the normal pressure and the slide-to-roll ratio, F is the normal load and O the contact region. Of course other parameters, such as ambient temperature, can be added for the calculation of t. Nevertheless, the central question is to nd a reliable equation for how the local shear stress depends on the running parameters. Such an equation combined with contact pressure calculations has great possibilities of giving accurate predictions of friction coefcients in boundary lubricated contacts. 6. Conclusions A friction model for lubricated, rough rolling/sliding contacts has been suggested. Two parameters are used to calculate the friction coefcient, the slide-to-roll ratio and the calculated mean pressure in the contact. The model is valid for slide-to-roll ratios between 0.33 and 1.5 and real mean pressures between 600 and 1600 MPa. The absolute error for the presented model is for most cases within 0.005. There is a linear decrease in friction coefcient as a function of the slide-to-roll ratio. The friction coefcient increases linearly with increasing mean contact pressure up to a maximum limit above which the friction coefcient is constant. References
[1] Xiao L. Effect of rough surface anisotropy on friction in gears. Licentiate thesis, CTH, 2002, ISSN 1651-0984. [2] Thomas TR. Rough surfaces 2e. London: Imperial College Press; 1999. [3] Stout KJ, Sullivan, PJ, Dong WP, Mainsah E, Luo E, Mathia N, Zahouani TH. The development of methods for the characterisation of surfaces in three dimensions. Report EUR 15178 EN, European Commission, Brussels, 1993. [4] Bjorklund S, Andersson S. A numerical method for real elastic contacts subjected to normal and tangential loading. Wear 1994;179:11722. [5] Love AEH. Stress produced in an innite solid by pressure on part of the boundary. Philos Trans Roy Soc 1929;A228(377):549. [6] Hamrock BJ. Fundamentals of uid lm lubrication. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1994 ISBN 0-07-025956-9. [7] Jacobson S, Hogmark S. Tribologifriktion, smorjning och notning. 1996. pp. 62. ISBN 91-634-1532-1.