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Wear, 112 (1986) 121 - 144 121


Tribology Section, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College, Exhibition
Road, London SW7 2BX (U.K.)


Westland Helicopters Ltd., Yeovil, Somerset BA20 2YB (U.K.)

(Received August 2,1985;accepted September 20,1985)

Unexpectedly high uniform rates of wear occur from time to time in
concentrated lubricated rolling contacts having low slide-roll ratios. Such
wear can occur under quite mild conditions and this poses a significant
practical problem, especially in gears.
This phenomenon of high wear rate at low slide-roll ratios has been
reproduced consistently and studied in the laboratory using a disc machine.
In this paper the outcome of this study is reported. It is shown that the
wear is caused by plastic deformation, fatigue cracking, ductile extrusion
and fracture on a scale associated with asperity contact. The relationship
of the phenomenon to delamination wear theory is discussed and ways of
avoiding this type of wear in operating machinery are suggested.

1. Introduction

Wear is almost universally considered to be a consequence of the sliding

contact of solid surfaces and most theoretical and experimental studies of
the subject have considered sliding motion alone as being responsible.
Alternatively, rolling contacts, despite having been extensively studied in
connection with fatigue pitting (spalling) and scuffing (scoring), have
received relatively little research attention as potential producers of wear.
However, practical engineering (as will be shown in Section 2) provides no
shortage of wear producing situations in which the predominant motion of
the contacting surfaces is rolling.
In this paper, results are presented of an experimental study of the
uniform wear of hard steel surfaces in a partial elastohydrodynamic (EHD)
contact under conditions of low (but not zero) slide-roll ratio. The study

*Paper presented at the International Conference on Wear of Materials, Vancouver,

Canada, April 14 - l&1985.

0043-1648/86/$3.50 0 Elsevier Sequoia/Printed in The Netherlands

involves the investigation of wear rates under a range of conditions and the
subsequent characterization of the roughness and metallurgical condition
both of the worn surface and of the counterface. It is demonstrated that the
wear behaviour is entirely different from that predicted by the established
sliding wear theories and the reasons for this are discussed in terms of a
slip-line field approach to asperity plastic deformation. Wear prevention in
practical situations is also discussed.

2. Background

2.1. Wear theories

In this section a brief review of wear theories which might be held to
be relevant to lubricated rolling contacts is presented.

X1.1. Adhesive wear

The theory of adhesive wear was developed in the early 1950s by
Burwell and Strang [ 11, Archard and Hirst [ 2,3] and others specifically to
explain the severe wear encountered in sliding metallic contacts. The
elements of the theory are well known; they involve the important concepts
of asperity conjunction and fracture. The development of the theory oc-
curred against the background of the closely related adhesive theory of
friction and provides a mechanistic explanation of the empirical wear rate
V k’W
-=- fl)
where V is the worn volume, L the sliding distance, W the applied load, Y
the yield stress of the material and k’ a constant.
The proportionality of wear volume to sliding distance in eqn. (1) may
be taken to imply that the wear will be zero if no sliding takes place. How-
ever, the theory emphasises the dependence of wear on asperity contact
which can occur in rolling just as in sliding contact. Clearly, the adhesive
wear theory is of limited direct applicability to rolling contacts, Under
lubricated rolling conditions this applicability is further reduced as the
necessary asperity contacts could be greatly affected by lubricant film
formation. Boundary lubrication effects have been considered by Rowe,
Stolarski and others [4 - 6) and partial EHD effects by Stolarski [S], in an
attempt to allow for the presence of lubricant, but agreement with experi-
ment was poor. It was not demonstrated that adhesion was the predominant
mechanism of wear.
Adhesive wear theory is still probably the most widely accepted theory
of wear at least for the severe phase of metallic sliding wear. Furthermore,
the Archard law (eqn. (1)) is a good summary of wear behaviour for a range
of experimental conditions. The experimental observation of transferred
films on wear surfaces and the direct observation of asperity adhesion both
add further credence to the theory [ 7 1.

2.1.2. Abrasive wear

The wear of surfaces of significantly different hardnesses is usually
ascribed to abrasion. Abrasive wear theory was developed on the basis of
experimental observations of metals in sliding contact with hard abrasive
papers [ 81. A similar wear rate dependence to eqn. (1) was found. In addi-
tion, for wear to occur at all, it was necessary for the hardness of the
abrasive to exceed that of the metal by a substantial margin [ 9, lo]. Thus
both significant sliding and a large hardness difference are pre-conditions of
abrasion. Neither of these conditions apply to the lubricated rolling contact
of similar metal surfaces and, in addition, the effects of lubrication and film
formation have not been taken into account. Consequently, abrasive wear
theory is not likely to be relevant to lubricated rolling wear.

2.1.3. Delamination wear

This theory was introduced relatively recently [ll] but has become
widely known. Again, the theory deals explicitly only with sliding contacts
but the general concepts, those of plastic deformation, subsurface initiation
and propagation of fatigue cracks and, finally, the removal of material in
the form of thin sheets, have wider implications. Physical observations of a
wide range of situations have shown that the aforementioned phenomena are
in fact occurring [ 12,131 even under such apparently different conditions as
erosion [ 141 and fretting [ 151. In contrast, the analysis of the mechanics
of crack initiation and propagation [ 16,171 presented by the proponents of
delamination theory does not appear to be applicable to rolling lubricated
contact, primarily because of the necessary assumption of a high asperity
friction coefficient. The wear rate equation derived for sliding delamination
wear is of the form [ 171
V a WLH” + constant (2)
where H is the hardness and n an exponent in the range 2 - 5. The depen-
dence of the wear on L and W is therefore similar to the Archard relationship
so long as the constant is small, but the hardness dependence is different.
Again, as the theory depends on asperity contact, a different behaviour
might be expected where predominantly rolling motion is involved.
Of all the sliding wear theories delamination wear appears at first sight
the most plausible candidate for application to lubricated rolling contact
because of the clear potential for asperity contact, fatigue cracking and the
removal of sheet-like debris to occur. None of the current theories are,
however, really suited in their current forms to predominantly rolling con-
ditions. In the next section some of the previousiy reported instances of high
wear rates in rolling contact are reviewed and the delamination-like character
of some of these wear situations will be evident.

2.2. Previous reports of wear in rolling lubricated con tact

It has long been known to gear engineers that wear can occur on gear
teeth at torques below the pitting limit, especially at low speeds [ 181 where
the ratio of the EHD film thickness to composite roughness X is low. This

behaviour is often associated with micropitting (frosting) a phenomenon

which has received increasing attention in recent years [19 - 211. Rolling
element bearings also exhibit micropitting (surface distress) under low h
conditions and this too seems to have an associated wear mode usually
termed “peeling”. All these phenomena have the following features in
common: (a) Predominantly rolling motion, with some sliding present;
(b) Low X ratio (i.e. asperity contact); (c) Crack formation on an asperity
scale; (d) Formation of plate or flake-like debris. These features are reminis-
cent of a delamination type of wear but most investigators have preferred to
compare micropitting to pitting (spalling) and the emphasis has correspond-
ingly been on load uersus life-to-pitting relationships rather than on the wear
phenomenon itself. A peculiar relationship between crack geometry and
sliding [21] has been reported for micropitting in which the cracks
propagate at a shallow angle to the surface and in a direction opposed to
that of the tractive force. This relationship differs both from pitting and
from delamination wear theory.
In addition to the practical instances of wear cited above, some workers
report unexpected occurrences of high wear rates during rolling contact
fatigue testing. For example Nakajima [22 3, Berthe [ 191 and Graham [ 231
provide examples of high wear rates and it seems probable that many other
unreported examples exist.
The present situation may therefore be summarized as follows.
(a) Wear theories have been developed primarily for pure sliding situa-
tions and do not appear to be directly applicable to rolling lubricated
contact. However, all these wear theories depend ultimately on asperity
contact which can occur equally in situations where rolling rather than
sliding motion predominates.
(b) Wear in the rolling lubricated contact of hard steels is widely ob-
served, is sometimes severe and poses a significant practical problem.
(c) Repeatable laboratory simulation and systematic study of this type
of wear, in the manner common in the field of sliding wear has not previ-
ously been reported.

3. Experimental details

3.1. Test rig

This experimental study of wear in rolling lubricated contacts was
carried out using a hydrostatic disc machine of a type described by Graham
[23]. This test machine has an established history of successful use for the
simulation of gear tooth surface distress of various types. It had been demon-
strated that test results from it could be successfully applied to practical
gearing [23]. In addition, high wear rates had occasionally been observed.
The contact geometry is shown in Fig. 1. Three rings of 82.6 mm in
diameter are loaded hydrostatically against a cylindrical test specimen of
18.6 mm in diameter. The rings are chamfered at an angle of 10” to form a
track width of 6.35 mm. The specimen and the discs are both slotted and

/ L I testpiece

L= hydrostatic load I
18.6 mm dla

Fig. 1. Contact geometry of the hydrostatic disc machine.

lubrication Cl


high pressure

Fig. 2. Oil system of the hydrostatic disc machine.

driven, via flexible couplings, by driveshafts in a back-to-back arrangement,

allowing a number of fixed slide-roll ratios to be obtained by the selection
of suitable toothed belts and pulleys. The torque can be continuously
monitored using a strain gauge bridge located in one of the drive couplings.
The loading of the discs is achieved through hydrostatic bearings. These
take the form of fixed spigots located on a rigid back plate and contain
hydrostatic pockets supplied via orifices from a high pressure pump (Fig. 2).
It is necessary in such an arrangement to overcome the effects of elastic
compression and wear in the contacts which have the potential to cause
unloading of the test specimen by excessively increasing the gap in the
bearings. This is achieved in the present machine by the use of a moving
plunger in one of the spigots which has the effect of closing the gap and
hence maintaining the load, even when severe wear has occurred. It was
estimated that a maximum of 0.2 mm loss of specimen diameter could be
accommodated in this way, this being more than twice the maximum wear
observed during these experiments.

3.2. Ma teriab
The lubricant used throughout was a commercial synthetic ester-based
turbine oil of kinematic viscosity 5.5 cSt. This was also used for the high
pressure supply to the bearings, a low pressure bleed from the pump being
employed to flood the contact with oil (Fig. 2). The choice of this type of
lubricant is considered critical as it was necessary to use a low viscosity oil
to enable low X values to be achieved with reasonably good quality ground
surfaces whilst at the same time having sufficient load carrying capacity to
prevent either failure of the hydraulic system or premature specimen failure
by pitting. The bulk oil temperature was controlled to +2 “C. The specimen
and counterface (ring) material were carburized, hardened and tempered
steel of 4% Ni-Cr-Mo type. The details and composition of the steel are
shown in Table 1 and are representative of helicopter gearing.

Nominal composition (core) of carburized steel (to British Standard Aerospace Series

Element c Ni Cr MO Si Mn
Composition (wt.%) 0.15 4.0 1.2 0.25 0.3 0.4

Vhese specimens were gas carburized at 925 “C, reheated to 800 “C, oil quenched, deep
frozen at -60 “C and tempered at 170 “C prior to finish grinding. Nominal case depth,
0.75 mm to HV 520. Some specimens were subsequently retempered as described in the

3.3. Traction, temperature and life to pitting

The behaviour of this test system had been studied previously with
respect to traction and surface temperature. In addition, curves of life to
pitting uersus applied stress were available. The results of this work have
been published previously [23] but a summ~ of these values for the most
used experimental conditions is given in Table 2.

Traction, surface temperature and mean pitting life data for tests carried out at 1.7 GPa,
70 “C bulk oil temperature

Slide-roll ratio - 0.026 -0.28

Mean friction coefficient (total) 0.095 0.077

Surface temperature (“C)
specimen 100 140
counterface 77 90
EHD oil film thickness (calculated using
mean surface temperature) (pm) 0.16 0.10
Estimated pitting life (specimen tempered
at 170 “C) (cycles), (h) 10a,110 2.5 x 106, 4.6

3.4. Experimental procedure and wear measurement

The experimental procedure adopted was to run tests at loads below
the pitting limit and involved the following.
(a) To examine the effect of the main variables in the Archard relation-
ship on the wear behaviour of the test specimens.
(b) To subject worn and unworn specimens and counterfaces to
detailed analysis of their roughness, microscopic and metallographic proper-
ties in order to elucidate the wear mechanism. The methods used for this
are well known but details, where appropriate, are described alongside the
results. Continuous wear measurement was not found to be necessary
because of the frequent need to interrupt test runs for detailed specimen
examination. The cylindrical design of the specimen allowed the worn
profile to be measured easily, once removed from the machine, using a
micrometer or by stylus profilometry. The wear rate data were deduced
from the measurement of the centre track diameter.

4. Results

4.1. General observations

In this section a general description of the wear phenomenon en-
countered in these experiments is given. Sections 4.2 - 4.4, deal with the
variations in this behaviour as a function of the experimental conditions.
Two mean wear curves, obtained at a hertzian pressure of 1.7 GPa,
typical of those obtained in the preliminary phase of this work are shown in
Fig. 3. (“AH” in Fig. 3 refers to the hardness difference between the
contacting surfaces and is discussed in Section 4.2.) These results were ob-
tained at a low slide-roll ratio (-0.026) and at a bulk oil temperature of
70 “C (see Table 3). The following features are evident.

, loss of diameter (,um)



tm ofrunnq (h)

Fig. 3. Typical mean wear curves: q, AH = -15; 8, AH = 16.


Test rig data for the hydrostatic pitting disc machine

Rotational speeds (revolutions min-‘)

specimen 5060,300O
counterface 1200
Slide-roll ratios -0.026, -0.28
((VI - UZ)I(Ul + U2)F
Rate of contact cycles (cycles h-‘)
idling specimen 961548
-0.026 slide-roll ratio 910 800
-0.28 slide-roll ratio 540 000
Out of contact time (ms)
-0.026 slide-roll ratio 4
-0.28 slide-roll ratio 7
For nominal contact stress PO of 1.7 GPa
Contact area-total wear track ratio
specimen 0.025
counterface 0.002
Bulk oil temperature (“C) 70

aU1 is the surface speed of the specimen and U2 is the surface speed of the counterface.

(a) There is an “incubation” phase where no macroscopic wear is

taking place.
(b) This is followed by a wear phase in which the diameter of the test
specimen decreases linearly with time.
The worn appearance of a test specimen during an early part of the “incuba-
tion” phase is illustrated in Fig. 4 from which it can be seen that a smooth-
ing of the asperity crests has taken place and that this has been accompanied
by the development of a large number of small cracks which form a
“herringbone” pattern along the grinding lay. These cracks, which are
believed to constitute the initiation phase of micropitting, are further dis-
cussed in Section 5.
The condition of a specimen during the wear phase is illustrated in
Fig. 5. The appearance is that of dense micropitting and is very similar to
that observed by earlier workers. Note that there is clear evidence of progres-
sive cracking such as would be expected from a fatigue mechanism. In
addition, there is a generally smooth appearance to the remaining surface.
Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of the specimen surface during this
phase shows more distinct evidence that the smoothing results from local
plastic deformation (Fig. 6), there being some apparently quite severe defor-
mation in the vicinity of the micropits despite the low nominal (i.e. hertzian)
applied stress.
Use of metallographic techniques enabled the subsurface crack geo-
metry to be ascertained. Taper and perpendicular microsections are shown in
Fig. 7 and Fig. 8 respectively. The main crack system consists of shallowly
inclined cracks, extending in depth beyond the visible pit in the direction
opposed to that of the surface traction (Fig. 8) as previously reported for



Fig. 4. The worn surface of the test specimen at various magnifications after 45 min
(6.8 X 10’ cycles) of the “incubation” phase: hardness of specimen, 750 HV; hardness of
counterface 710 HV (further details are given in Tables 1 - 4). The plastic asperity defor-
mation and cracking should be noted. The single arrow shows the direction of contact
motion, the double arrow the direction of tractive force.

micropitting [21,24]. Additional cracks are present at the trailing edges of

many of the micropits (Figs. 4(b) and 7) and these areas have a somewhat
lighter etched appearance (Fig. 7). It would appear that wear particle forma-
tion by cracking and plastic deformation is occurring.
The wear debris is shown in Fig. 9, revealed by Ferrography. It gener-
ally has a plate-like appearance.
Examination of the counterface after long running times showed
evidence of similar changes to those observed during the early part of the
test specimen’s life. Of course the different diameters and contact numbers
mean that the rate of contact cycling on the counterface is considerably less
than on the test specimen. Nevertheless, it is noted that crack initiation is

Lubricant data for commercial turbine oil having low viscosity and mild boundary
additives (hindered ester base stock)

Kinematic viscosity (cSt) 5.5 (at 99 “C minimum)

(specification values) 25 (at 38 “C maximum)
13000 (at -40 “C maximum)
Pour point (“C) -54
Flash point closed {minimums (“C) 210
Density (kg m-3) 880
Pressure viscosity exponent (N-l mm2) 2 x 10-z
Specification number D Eng RD 2497

Temperature (“C) Dynamic viscosity (measured) (Pa s)

21.3 5.62 x 1O-2

42.4 2.32 x 1O-2
55.3 1.487 X 1O-2
67.0 1.05 x 10-z
83.8 6.64 X 1O-3
105.6 4.46 x 1O-3

occurring in a similar fashion on both high and low speed surfaces (Fig. 10)
but that the crack direction reverses with the direction of sliding (compare
with Figs. 4 and 5).

4.2, Effect of hardness

The next step was to make changes to the hardness of the specimen and
counter-face and to investigate the effect of this on wear behaviour. The
hardness alteration was achieved by re-tempering the specimens at higher
temperatures up to 290 “C. However, the range of hardness studied was
maintained close to that currently considered acceptable for carburized
helicopter gearing (Vickers’ hardness 650 kgf mmW2minimum).
The effect of small hardness reductions in the test specimen was a very
large (nearly tenfold) increase in the steady wear rate and a similar decrease
in the incubation period (Fig. 3). Furthermore, this increase in wear severity
could be completely removed by softening the counterface. This behaviour
can be rationalized as arising from the difference in hardness between the
specimen and counterface and is slushed in Fig. 11 which shows the
logarithm of wear rate as a function of this difference, This large dependence
of wear rate on hardness is not in agreement with the Archard law which
predicts a linear relationship and, as will be shown in Section 5, strongly
supports plastic asperity indentation as a fundamental cause of the wear
It was, in addition, possible to show that the two wear regimes, corre-
sponding to whether the specimen was harder or softer than the counterface,
related to different roughness changes on the counterface itself. Figure 12
shows the roughness profile of two such surfaces in the axial direction after
(4 (b)

11 Im

Fig. 5. The surface of the specimen at various magnifications after 10 h (9.1 x lo6 cycles)
of the wear phase: hardness of specimen, 750 HV; hardness of counterface, 710 HV. The
specimen surface has become smooth and extensive cracking and micropit formation has
occurred. The larger pit is diminishing in size because of the wear of the surrounding
surface. The single arrow shows the direction of contact motion, the double arrow the
direction of tractive force.

0.9 h running. The profile of the surface in contact with a specimen harder
than itself shows considerable rounding of the crests, suggesting that plastic
deformation has occurred in the counterface in preference to the specimen.
In order to investigate this effect further an additional experiment was
carried out. Two sets of counterface “rings” were heat treated so that one
set was slightly harder and one set slightly softer (AH = 40 kgf mmP2
Vickers’ hardness) than the specimen against which they were to be run.
After treatment the rings were carefully reground to ensure a very similar
initial roughness. Transverse surface profiles were measured at two positions
on each ring before running and then after 1 h at a slide-roll ratio of -0.026
(9.1 X 10’ cycles). This data was obtained using a Talysurf stylus instrument


i O.lmm

Fig. 6. Scanning electron micrograph of a typical worn surface showing micropitting and
plastic deformation. The fatigue character of the fracture surface and secondary cracking
at the trailing edge of the micropits should be noted. (For arrow definitions see Fig. 4).

. A

Fig. 7. Taper section of the worn specimen surface. The light etching areas are probably
indicative of plastic deformation. The secondary cracking should be noted (Fig. 6). The
taper angle is 6”. (For arrow definitions see Fig. 4.)

connected to an LSIll-23 computer system which was programmed to

sample the profiles at an interval of 2 pm. A simple cone and notch
mechanical device was used to relocate the profiles after running.

Fig. 8. Perpendicular microsection showing the inclination of the main crack system. The
slightly steeper orientation of the deeper parts of the cracks compared with the exposed
micropit surface should be noted. (For arrow definitions see Fig. 4.)

Fig. 9. Appearance of the debris removed from the oil and revealed by ferrography.
Compare with the worn surfaces at the same magnification in Figs. 5(c) and 6.

Fig. 10. Appearance of the “softer” counterface after 12 h (conditions given in Tables
1 - 4). Microcracks have appeared on this, the faster surface, exactly as for the slower
specimen surface: specimen, 10.9 X lo6 cycles; counterface, 8.6 X lo5 cycles. (For arrow
definitions see Fig. 4.)

(wear rate ,um h’]

counterface harder

swcimen harder

-120-100-80-60-40-20 20 LO60 &I100 120

hardness difference (AH)
Fig. 11. The effect of the hardness difference on the wear. Slide-roll ratios: Es, 0; @,
-O.O26;A, -0.28.

The results of these measurements were used to compute values of the

Whitehouse and Archard plasticity index [25]
* = (1- V*)Hp*
where u is the root mean square roughness, E is the Youngs modulus, v is the
Poisson ratio, H is the hardness of the soft surface and p* is the correlation

(b) I I

harder softer
cmterface counterface
wear) (no wear)
03 Oh Ih Oh lh


Fig. 12, Roughness characteristics of the counterfaces: (a) harder counterface after 0.9 h
running; (b) softer counterface after 0.9 h running; (c) plasticity indices of the counter-

length defined as the value of the delay length r over which the autocorrela-
tion function

P(T) = ?-
@2 E{z(x)z(x + 7)) (4)

decays to the value l/e. Here, E( } denotes the expected (i.e. average) value
of the argument and z(x) is the profile height at position 3t. The data were
filtered at 100 pm to remove unwanted long wavelength effects.
The results of the computation are shown in Fig. 12(c). Provided that
the lubricant film thickness is negligible, the plasticity index defined in this
way is an approximate measure of the ability of the counterface surface to
cause plastic deformation when run against a smooth specimen. The initial
(unrun) values are very similar for “harder” and “softer” counterfaces. After
1 h running, however, (9.1 X lo5 cycles) the harder counterface still retains
a high plasticity index (and is starting to cause wear of the specimen surface)
while the softer counterface has suffered a large reduction in plasticity index
and is consequently unable to damage the specimen; it has “run-m”.
It was immediately apparent that this strong effect of hardness differ-
ence could explain the erratic appearance of high wear rate phenomena in

earlier work where specimen and counterface hardnesses were similar as well
as some of the in-service behaviour of gears and rolling element bearings.
However, more importantly, it was also clear that repeatable rapid wear
behaviour could be obtained in the present experimental set-up once the
hardness was adequately controlled thus allowing the investigation of other

4.3. Effect of sliding distance

Keeping all other conditions constant and using a specimen softer than
the counterface the speed of specimen rotation was reduced to give a slide-
roll ratio of -0.28. This had the effect shown in Fig. 13. The specimen
failed by ordinary surface fatigue pitting after 2.45 h but otherwise the wear
rate, expressed as a function of the number of contact cycles, was almost
unchanged. This, again, is not in agreement with the Archard law which
would predict an increase in wear with sliding distance.
In addition to the above, some tests were carried out without imposed
sliding. This was achieved in one test by disconnecting the drive to the rings
and in another by disconnecting the drive to the specimens. Under these
circumstances the sliding speed is determined by any misalignment between
the hydrostatic bearings and will be in the transverse (axial) direction [ 261.
The wear rates obtained under these conditions are shown in Fig. 11. They
are slightly higher than for the standard slide-roll ratio (-0.026) and show
considerable scatter. The appearance of one such specimen is shown in
Fig. 14; the circumferential crack orientation should be noted.
It appears that for slide-roll ratios between -0.28 and some very small
negative value, sliding speed and hence sliding distance do not greatly affect
the wear rate. Whether the behaviour is similar for positive slide-roll ratios
(i.e. where the specimen is the faster surface) has not been investigated here
but experience with gears would suggest otherwise [ 211.

0026slkk/rdl.A H=-15

11.5&1, 21~m/10"cy&s

0 12 3 4 5
timeof running(h)
Fig. 13. Effect of sliding on wear.

1loss of diameler (/urn)

Fig. 14. Appearance of the specimen surface after 1 h running with the specimen drive
disconnected. The major crack system is cir~umferenti~. The single arrow shows the
direction of contact motion, the double arrow the direction of tractive force {due to axial
Fig. 15. Effect of load change on wear.

4.4. Effect of load

As explained previously, increasing the contact stress much above 1.7
GPa leads to pitting in a short time. It was, however, possible to decrease the
load to a nominal hertzian stress of 1.3 GPa which represents the minimum
possible with this test machine. The results of doing this are shown in Fig.
15. The steady wear rate is reduced to a greater extent than the Archard law
Increasing the contact stress once again to 1.7 GPa restored the wear
rate to its original value.

5. Discussion

5.1. Genera2
The experiments described in Section 4 have shown that high rates of
wear are obtainable under quite moderate conditions and that the wear rate
behaviour differs significantly from that expected in sliding wear. In this
section the question is asked “What mechanisms are occurring to cause such
wear?” It is suggested that three major stages are involved in the wear
process: (a) plastic asperity ~den~tion; (b) fatigue cracking; (c) wear par-
ticle formation. The evidence for each of these stages and their role in both
the present wear phenomenon and in other forms of wear are discussed

5.2. Plastic~~erity indentation

It is well known that plastic deformation on an asperity scale is possible
even at light loads as a result of roughness. There is ample evidence in the
present work that plastic deformation occurs and continues to occur during
the wear process; SEM and metallographic evidence has already been

mentioned. In addition, the marked dependence of wear on the relative

hardness may itself be held to support plastic indentation as a cause of wear.
A simple slip-line field model of asperity plastic indentation is developed in
Appendix A and the results are used to show the normal indentation pres-
sure (i.e. hardness) of a rigid perfectly plastic asperity as a function of the
tangential-normal load ratio (i.e. friction coefficient cc) and of the asperity
slope. This relationship is illustrated in Fig. 16 from which it can be seen
that the geometric effect (asperity slope effect) is small in the region 0” - lo”,
which is of most interest in engineering surfaces, and reduces further with
increasing friction. Since the friction coefficient will be equal on both sur-
faces for any asperity contact the weaker of the two surfaces (that with the
lower value of the yield stress in shear k) will nearly always be indented in
preference to the stronger in any asperity contact of sufficient severity.
Consequently, if the counterface is more than 6% softer (for /.J= 0.2), plastic
deformation will be restricted entirely to that surface and plastic damage to
the specimen, and hence the wear rate, will be correspondingly reduced. Of
course the analysis is simplified in not taking elastic, strain hardening,
thermal or strain rate effects into account. The first two of these may con-
tribute to the much slower wear encountered with a softer counterface.
This conclusion is broadly supported by the roughness results (Fig. 12)
where plastic deformation may be seen to affect the softer rather than the
harder counterface.
Finally, an important corollary of plastic deformation is the develop-
ment of residual stresses. An approximate analysis of the residual stress in a
plastically deformed asperity is outlined in Appendix B where use is made of
a simplified model based on slip-line field theory [24, 271. It is shown that
significant residual tension is generated. Such residual stresses are believed to
exert an influence on fatigue crack behaviour and may account for the de-
pendence of crack direction on sliding direction. The development of fatigue
cracking is discussed in the next section.

0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6

friction coefficient ,u

Fig. 16. Relationship of indentation pressure (hardness) to friction coefficient (see Ap-
pendix B for further explanation and definitions).

5.3. Fatigue cracking

In contrast to sliding wear, the present experiments show clear frac-
tographic evidence of fatigue on the surfaces of the micropits. In the face of
this evidence it is necessary to explain how fatigue cracks develop under
conditions of rough surface contact.
In conventional structural fatigue the crack initiation process is usually
attributed to cyclic plasticity at some stress raising feature such as a notch,
a non-metallic inclusion or other microstructural feature. It seems likely,
therefore, that the stress raising feature responsible in the present case is
the roughness: cyclic plastic flow occurs because the softer specimen is
repeatedly forced to conform plastic~ly to a new portion of the counterface
surface. It has been mentioned that plastic deformation can occur at light
loads in a low h contact and this has been analysed in detail by Berthe in
the context of micropitting [ 191, but will this deformation be cyclic? If so,
fatigue initiation is far more likely as shown by the work of Coffin [28] .
To answer this question explicitly requires a more detailed model of
rough contact than exists at present but it is proposed qualitatively that the
likelihood of cyclic contact will be related to the number of adjacent as
opposed to coincident plastic contacts. This in turn may be more probable,
for a fixed h value, on a smooth surface than on a rough one where the
contacts will be concentrated at the asperity tips. It has been widely ob-
served that distributed plastic contact is more damaging than repeated
contact at the same location 1291. Smoothing may therefore, in contrast to
most suppositions concerning running-in, actually increase the cyclic com-
ponent of plastic strain and hence contribute to crack initiation, provided
that the counterface roughness is such that plastic asperity contacts continue
to occur.
Cracks must also propagate, although the detailed manner in which this
occurs is far from clear. Conventional approaches, both to delamination
wear and to contact fatigue, have been based on linear elastic fracture
mechanics but it seems unlikely that this can be applied to the present case
where the cracks are small and restricted to the region of asperity contact
where plastic effects are important.

5.4. Wear particle formation - extrusive wear

The presence of inclined cracks in the specimen surface is clearly a pre-
condition of the wear process. However, wear debris is in the form of fine
platelets. The manner in which these are formed from the cracked surface is
not entirely clear but it seems possible that a process of extrusion is partly
responsible. Asperity contacts in the neighbourhood of the crack mouth on
the acute side of the crack have the potential to cause extrusion of material
from the surface. If, as seems likely, this process is limited by cracking or
rupture, a wear particle, of approximately flake-like geometry, will be
produced. As mentioned earlier, there is evidence of heavy plastic deforma-
tion and subsidiary cracking in this area.
Work is continuing in order to develop a realistic model of this
“extrusive” mechanism of wear [ 301.

Comparison of the present results with delamination wear theory

Delamination wear theory [ll, 16, 171 Observations

( 1) Geometry

(a) - (b)
(2) Sliding conditions generate a smooth Slide-roll ratio small. A smooth
surface leading to asperity-plane inter- surface is generated
(3) Plastic shear deformation takes place Plastic deformation detectable on the
acute side of the crack
(4) Cracks nucleated below the surface Cracks nucleated at or very near the
(5) Cracks propagate parallel to the Cracks propagate obliquely to the
surface in opposite directions from the surface in opposite directions from
tractive force the tractive force
(6) Depth of the crack propagation con- Depth of cracks shallow, 0.1 mm
trolled by material properties, ~1and maximum
normal and tangential loads
(7) Rate of wear (controlled by the Rate of wear depends on the relative
predicted depth of the crack and the hardness. Wear is not proportional to
propagation rate). Wear proportional to the the sliding distance
sliding distance
(8)Dryc(=O.5-1.0 Lubricated /J < 0.1 (total)
p = 0.2 (asperity)

5.5. Relationship to sliding delamination wear

The main components of the theory of sliding delamination wear are
summarized in Table 5 and compared with the observations made during the
present experiments. There are many similarities, in particular the generation
of a smooth surface, plastic deformation and fatigue cracking. These
similarities are, arguably, sufficient to warrant the description of the present
wear phenomenon as delamination.
However, it is also quite clear from the current work that the existing
delamination wear theory is inadequate to account for the present phe-
nomenon without considerable modification. Of particular interest is the
presence of cracks inclined, rather than parallel to the surface. In sliding

wear, a severe plastic strain gradient is developed such that large displace-
ments on the surface, in the sliding direction, drop to zero a short distance
below the surface. The effect of this is to rotate microstructure features,
including cracks, to become parallel to the surface. Thus, even for some
sliding wear situations, cracks may form initially at a small angle to the
surface though this would be obscured by subsequent plastic rotation. In the
present rolling situation, the tangential displacements would be expected to
be smaller because of the much lower asperity friction coefficient (P = 02
for EHD asperity contacts). However, careful scrutiny of Fig. 8 shows that
the cracks do have a very slight “convex” appearance such that the exposed
micropit surface is more nearly parallel to the specimen surface than are the
deeper parts of the crack. Thus the apparent difference between the crack
angles observed for sliding and rolling wear may simply be related to the
different friction coefficients. If this is the case the d~ficulties encountered
in delamination wear theory in determining why cracks are parallel to the
surface and why they initiate below rather than at the surface would have
considerably less significance. Surface initiated cracks would propagate at a
shallow angle to the surface but become rotated by the prevalent plastic
deformation, exactly as in the present rolling wear. The depth of the cracks
may in both cases be related to the depth of the plastic strain gradient rather
than to a preferred initiation depth.
This proposition is also attractive because it obviates the need for the
re-initiation of fatigue cracks at each depth increment, allowing high wear
rates to be sustained by the propagation of existing cracks. The observation
of a definite “incubation” period during which cracks initiate would appear
to support this.
It may therefore be concluded.
(a) The presence of fatigue cracks closely associated with the wear
process suggests a mechanism akin to delamination wear theory.
(b) Delamination wear theory needs considerable modification with
respect to the origin and in~l~ation of cracking to be applicable to the wear
found in this study.
(c) The mechanism of material removal appears to be quite different
from that of delamination wear even if the obvious differences due to the
predominantly rolling rather than pure sliding conditions are discounted.

6. Wear prevention

A number of ways of preventing or reducing this type of wear seem

possible and the present work has demonstrated the efficacy of at least one..
The following brief list of possibilities may be of use to the practising
Increasing the value of h would be the conventional approach to the
problem. This would reduce or eliminate the asperity contact and hence
suppress wear. This could be achieved by increasing the oil viscosity or

running speed, by decreasing the running temperature or by improving the

surface finish. However, these approaches are frequently not feasible for
practical situations and there is therefore some merit in considering
Lubricant chemistry might also provide a solution either by directly
affecting the h ratio (thick film deposition or chemical smoothing) or by
reducing the asperity friction coefficients and hence rendering plastic defor-
mation less likely (Fig. 16).
It seems most likely, however, that the marked effect of hardness
difference will be susceptible to practical exploitation. Indeed, many
industrial gear and rolling bearing manufacturers already do so by tempering
the gear wheels to a lower hardness than that of the mating pinions and the
bearing races to a lower hardness than that of the rolling elements. This
means that the softer surface (much more prone to wear) will experience
fewer contact cycles. The hardness differential required is very small so that
the loss of other properties (such as the tooth bending strength) need not
be prohibitive.

7. Conclusions
Substantial destructive wear can occur under apparently mild condi-
tions in rolling lubricated contacts with low X values and very small amounts
of sliding.
The wear rate behaviour is demonstrably entirely different from that of
sliding wear. In particular small changes in the hardness can have a dramatic
Despite a superficial resemblance to delamination wear theory the
mechanisms, particularly that of material removal, appear to be distinct.
They are believed to be as follows.
(a) Plastic indentation on an asperity scale.
(b) Fatigue cracking.
(c) Particle formation, possibly by extrusion and fracture near the
mouth of the fatigue cracks.
Wear of this type may be controlled either by good EHD practice or by
traditional policies on hardness control.

The authors would like to thank Westland Helicopters Ltd. for permis-
sion to publish this work which was carried out with the support of the
Procurement Executive, British Ministry of Defence.

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Appendix A

A.1. Indentation pressure (hardness) of an asperity subject to normal and

tangential loads
Consider a rigid perfectly plastic wedge-shaped asperity under the
action of normal and tangential loads (Fig. 16). This analysis is similar to that
of Johnson (Al) except that the results are portrayed as pressures rather
than as area growth at constant normal load. In addition, a simplifying
assumption is made that we ignore material deformation outside the contact
so that 6 is the undeformed asperity slope. This is likely to be a good
assumption for low asperity slopes because of elasticity.
The hydrostatic pressure in BCD (see Fig. 16) is
fi, = k(1 + 7i/2 - 28 + 2~) (Al)
where k is the yield stress in shear. The normal stress on BC is

uY ’ = -Do + k sin(2(8 + n/4 + 7r/4 - 8 + E)}

= -Do - k sin(2e)

Substituting eqn. (Al) in the above equation gives

uyo = -k{ 1 + n/2 - 28 + 2~ + sin( 2e)} (A2)
This quantity is the indentation pressure or hardness. The tangential stress
on BC is
TV’ = k cos{2(7r/2 + e)} = -k cos(2e)
The ratio of normal to tangential stress is
TXYO cos( 2E)
p= 0 = (A3)
=‘y i + 812 - 28 + 2~ + sign
Choosing different values of E and 6, corresponding values of P and H may
now be calculated from eqns. (A2) and (A3) respectively. The resultant plot
of H versus p for the extreme values of 8 (0” and 10”) likely to be en-
countered on engineering surfaces is given in Fig. 16.
For values of p greater than l/(1 + 7r/2 - 28) we may follow Johnson
[Al] and use the fact that the slip lines are parallel to the surface so
rXyo= k = constant
This means that H is inversely proportional to p, as any increase in cc requires
a proportional decrease in uyo to keep rXyoconstant.
The plot of H uersus p may be extended in this way and is shown as the
broken line in Fig. 16.

Reference for Appendix A

Al K. L. Johnson, Deformation of a plastic wedge by a rigid, flat die under the action of
a tangential force, J. Mech. Phys. Solids, 16 (1968) 395.

Appendix B

The residual stress field near a plastically deformed asperity may be

estimated [Bl] by subtracting the elastic stress distribution from the full
load (plastic) stresses which may themselves be estimated from a slip-line
field model such as that shown in Appendix A. If the angle 6 in Fig. 16 is zero
both the plastic and elastic solutions are of a simple analytical form and
hence the residual stresses may be found throughout the deforming region.
The results of such a calculation (for p = 2) are shown in Fig. Bl which is
taken from ref. B2.

Fig. Bl, Residual stresses near a plastic contact.

In Fig. Bl, the magnitude and direction of the principal residual stresses
are shown for an array of points in the deforming area. The tensile residual
stresses are shown by heavy print and arrowheads, The remaining stresses are
compressive. The area in which contact has occurred is to the right of
point B:
Substantial tensile residual stresses are present in a direction perpen-
dicular to the observed cracks and are similarly dependent on the direction
of tractive force.

References for Appendix B

Bl A. V. Olver, Micropitting and asperity deformation. In D. Dowson and M. Godet
(eds.), Developments in Numerical and Experimental Methods Applied to Tribology,
Proc. 10th Leeds-Lyon Symp. on Tribology, Lyon, September, 1983, Butterworths,
London, 1984, p. 319.
B2 A. V. Olver, H. A. Spikes, A. W. Bower and K. L. Johnson, The residual stress dis-
tribution in a plastically deformed model asperity, Wear, 107 (1986) 151.