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Friction and Wear Behavior of Irradiated Polyethylene Sliding Against a Rough Steel Surface


The aim of this study was to evaluate the tribological behavior of polyethylene crosslinked by gamma radiation sliding against a steel surface. Two high-density polyethylenes were irradiated to a total dose in the range of 2−20 Mrad under vacuum and at room temperature. After irradiation, the materials were annealed at 423 K and then cooled slowly to room temperature. The same thermal treatment was applied to the non-irradiated polymer. The wear behavior of the polymers was determined under controlled ambient temperature of 298 and 333 K using a homemade tribometer. Sheet-shaped specimens were loaded against the surface of a steel disc with different normal loads to generate nominal contact pressures in the range of 0.25–1.5 MPa. The tests were performed under dry conditions using a disc rotation to produce an average sliding speed of 0.6 m/s and during a period of time to provide an average sliding distance of 1,080 m. The wear rate was obtained as the mass loss by the sample divided by the sliding distance, and the friction coefficient was determined by measuring the friction force. The results indicate that the wear rate increases with load in the case of non-irradiated polyethylene and low-dose irradiated polymers, while the wear rate reaches a maximum value with the load in the case of the irradiated samples with high doses. The samples irradiated with a dose of 10 Mrad showed the lowest wear. The coefficient of friction (COF) increases slightly with the load in all the cases. Most irradiated polymers show higher COF than the non-irradiated material when compared at a given load. The results show that the irradiation dose applied to the polyethylenes produced no noticeable effect on the COF values when a comparison was made at a given applied load.

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The authors wish to express their appreciation for the support given to the Engineering Department of Universidad Nacional del Sur and CONICET for the financial support of this article.

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Correspondence to W. Tuckart.

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Tuckart, W., Molinari, E., Rossit, D. et al. Friction and Wear Behavior of Irradiated Polyethylene Sliding Against a Rough Steel Surface. Tribol Lett 55, 165–176 (2014).

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  • Abrasive wear
  • Cross-linked
  • Polyethylene
  • Friction