An investigation of friction and wear mechanisms in selected thermoplastics
Potter, Joseph R.
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These studies developed from Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) observations of abrasive wear of a polymer disk sliding against metal asperity models. The investigator was unable to observe actual particle formation but did identify elastic and plastic deformation of the polymer, and a debris buildup and extrusion process occurring at the leading edge of the asperity. On the assumption that this process could lead to a surface fatigue condition, pin-on-disk wear trials were completed using a spherical steel ball sliding on polycarbonate, rigid PVC, and ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene specimens in dry and lubricated conditions. A delay in debris formation was observed in the rigid PVC and polycarbonate dry sliding trials. In each case a higher rate of friction force increase coincided with debris formation. No debris was produced in the ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene dry sliding trials, and the friction force trace was flat. An SEM analysis of the polycarbonate and rigid PVC wear tracks revealed pitting consistent with the Delamination Theory of wear. The effect of the lubricants was to significantly alter the form of the friction force traces, but not to eliminate wear in rigid PVC and polycarbonate. The results of the investigation, particularly the delay in wear debris generation, indicated that a fatigue wear mechanism appeared to exist in dry metal pin-on-polymer disk sliding systems. A qualitative wear model was developed to relate the in-situ SEM observations and the results of the pin-on-disk trials.
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