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In situ investigation of the contact area in elastic–plastic spherical contact during loading–unloading

Abstract

The real contact area between a sphere and a flat during loading, unloading, and cyclic loading–unloading in the elastic–plastic regime of deformations was investigated experimentally. A direct optical technique was used to observe in situ the evolution of the contact area. The experimental results obtained with copper and stainless steel spheres of different diameters that were pressed against a sapphire flat were compared with existing theoretical models, and whenever possible, with previous experimental works. These models are based on the assumption of either perfect slip (i.e., frictionless) or full stick contact condition. Good agreement was found between the experimental and theoretical results for the contact area and mean contact pressure. The existing models for the unloading process fail to accurately predict the residual radius of curvature of fully unloaded spheres, and the irreversibility of multiple loading unloading cycles at least for the several initial cycles. Some recommendations to improve the models are provided.

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Acknowledgment

The B. and N. Ginsburg Research Fund partially supported this work.

Author information

Correspondence to I. Etsion.

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Ovcharenko, A., Halperin, G., Verberne, G. et al. In situ investigation of the contact area in elastic–plastic spherical contact during loading–unloading. Tribol Lett 25, 153–160 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11249-006-9164-y

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Keywords

  • contact mechanics
  • spherical contact
  • elastic–plastic contact
  • cyclic loading–unloading
  • real contact area
  • contact conditions.