Tribology Letters

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 283–294 | Cite as

Understanding the Friction Mechanisms Between the Human Finger and Flat Contacting Surfaces in Moist Conditions

  • S. E. Tomlinson
  • R. Lewis
  • X. Liu
  • C. Texier
  • M. J. Carré
Original Paper


Human hands sweat in different circumstances and the presence of sweat can alter the friction between the hand and contacting surface. It is, therefore, important to understand how hand moisture varies between people, during different activities and the effect of this on friction. In this study, a survey of fingertip moisture was done. Friction tests were then carried out to investigate the effect of moisture. Moisture was added to the surface of the finger, the finger was soaked in water, and water was added to the counter-surface; the friction of the contact was then measured. It was found that the friction increased, up until a certain level of moisture and then decreased. The increase in friction has previously been explained by viscous shearing, water absorption and capillary adhesion. The results from the experiments enabled the mechanisms to be investigated analytically. This study found that water absorption is the principle mechanism responsible for the increase in friction, followed by capillary adhesion, although it was not conclusively proved that this contributes significantly. Both these mechanisms increase friction by increasing the area of contact and therefore adhesion. Viscous shearing in the liquid bridges has negligible effect. There are, however, many limitations in the modelling that need further exploration.


Skin tribology Finger friction Effect of moisture 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. E. Tomlinson
    • 1
  • R. Lewis
    • 1
  • X. Liu
    • 1
  • C. Texier
    • 1
  • M. J. Carré
    • 1
  1. 1.The Department of Mechanical EngineeringThe University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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