In materials science
Materials science
Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates...

, wear is erosion or sideways displacement of material from its "derivative" and original position on a solid
Solid is one of the three classical states of matter . It is characterized by structural rigidity and resistance to changes of shape or volume. Unlike a liquid, a solid object does not flow to take on the shape of its container, nor does it expand to fill the entire volume available to it like a...

In mathematics, specifically in topology, a surface is a two-dimensional topological manifold. The most familiar examples are those that arise as the boundaries of solid objects in ordinary three-dimensional Euclidean space R3 — for example, the surface of a ball...

 performed by the action of another surface.

Wear is related to interactions between surfaces and more specifically the removal and deformation of material on a surface as a result of mechanical action of the opposite surface. The need for relative motion between two surfaces and initial mechanical contact between asperities is an important distinction between mechanical wear compared to other processes with similar outcomes.

The definition of wear may include loss of dimension from plastic deformation if it is originated at the interface between two sliding surfaces.
However, plastic deformation such as yield stress is excluded from the wear definition if it doesn't incorporates a relative sliding motion and contact against another surface despite the possibility for material removal, because it then lacks the relative sliding action of another surface.
Impact wear is in reality a short sliding motion where two solid bodies interact at an exceptional short time interval. Previously due to the fast execution, the contact found in impact wear was referred to as an impulse
In classical mechanics, an impulse is defined as the integral of a force with respect to time. When a force is applied to a rigid body it changes the momentum of that body...

 contact by the nomenclature. Impulse can be described as a mathematical model of a synthesised average on the energy transport between two travelling solids in opposite converging contact.
Cavitation is the formation and then immediate implosion of cavities in a liquidi.e. small liquid-free zones that are the consequence of forces acting upon the liquid...

 wear is a form of wear where the erosive medium or counter-body is a fluid.
Corrosion is the disintegration of an engineered material into its constituent atoms due to chemical reactions with its surroundings. In the most common use of the word, this means electrochemical oxidation of metals in reaction with an oxidant such as oxygen...

 may be included in wear phenomenons, but the damage is amplified and performed by chemical reactions rather than mechanical action.

Wear can also be defined as a process where interaction between two surfaces or bounding faces of solids within the working environment results in dimensional loss of one solid, with or without any actual decoupling and loss of material. Aspects of the working environment which affect wear include loads and features such as unidirectional sliding, reciprocating, rolling, and impact loads, speed, temperature, but also different types of counter-bodies such as solid, liquid
Liquid is one of the three classical states of matter . Like a gas, a liquid is able to flow and take the shape of a container. Some liquids resist compression, while others can be compressed. Unlike a gas, a liquid does not disperse to fill every space of a container, and maintains a fairly...

 or gas
Gas is one of the three classical states of matter . Near absolute zero, a substance exists as a solid. As heat is added to this substance it melts into a liquid at its melting point , boils into a gas at its boiling point, and if heated high enough would enter a plasma state in which the electrons...

 and type of contact ranging between single phase
Phase (matter)
In the physical sciences, a phase is a region of space , throughout which all physical properties of a material are essentially uniform. Examples of physical properties include density, index of refraction, and chemical composition...

 or multiphase, in which the last multiphase may combine liquid with solid particles and gas bubbles.


Today there exist a couple of standard test methods for different types of wear to determine the amount of material removal during a specified time period under well-defined conditions.
The ASTM International
ASTM International
ASTM International, known until 2001 as the American Society for Testing and Materials , is an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services...

 Committee G-2 attempts to standardise wear testing for specific applications, which are periodically updated. The Society for Tribology and Lubrication Engineers (STLE) has documented a large number of frictional wear and lubrication tests. But all test methods have inbuilt limitations and do not give a true picture in every aspect.
This can be attributed to the complex nature of wear, in particular "industrial wear", and the difficulties associated with accurately simulating wear processes.

A standard result review for wear tests, defined by the ASTM International
ASTM International
ASTM International, known until 2001 as the American Society for Testing and Materials , is an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services...

 and respective subcommittees such as Committee G-2, should be expressed as loss of material during wear in terms of volume. The volume loss gives a truer picture than weight loss, particularly when comparing the wear resistance properties of materials with large differences in density
The mass density or density of a material is defined as its mass per unit volume. The symbol most often used for density is ρ . In some cases , density is also defined as its weight per unit volume; although, this quantity is more properly called specific weight...

For example, a weight loss of 14 g in a sample of tungsten carbide
Tungsten carbide
Tungsten carbide is an inorganic chemical compound containing equal parts of tungsten and carbon atoms. Colloquially, tungsten carbide is often simply called carbide. In its most basic form, it is a fine gray powder, but it can be pressed and formed into shapes for use in industrial machinery,...

 + cobalt
Cobalt is a chemical element with symbol Co and atomic number 27. It is found naturally only in chemically combined form. The free element, produced by reductive smelting, is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal....

 (density = 14000 kg/m³) and a weight loss of 2.7 g in a similar sample of aluminium alloy
Aluminium alloy
Aluminium alloys are alloys in which aluminium is the predominant metal. The typical alloying elements are copper, magnesium, manganese, silicon and zinc. There are two principal classifications, namely casting alloys and wrought alloys, both of which are further subdivided into the categories...

 (density = 2700 kg/m³) both result in the same level of wear (1 cm³) when expressed as a volume loss. The inverse of volume loss can be used as a comparable index of wear resistance.
Standard wear tests are only used for comparative material ranking of a specific test parameter as stipulated in the test method. For more realistic values of material deterioration in industrial applications it is necessary to conduct wear testing under conditions simulating the exact wear process.

The working life of an engineering component is expired when dimensional losses exceed the specified tolerance limits. Wear, along with other ageing processes such as fatigue
Fatigue (material)
'In materials science, fatigue is the progressive and localized structural damage that occurs when a material is subjected to cyclic loading. The nominal maximum stress values are less than the ultimate tensile stress limit, and may be below the yield stress limit of the material.Fatigue occurs...

 and creep
Creep (deformation)
In materials science, creep is the tendency of a solid material to slowly move or deform permanently under the influence of stresses. It occurs as a result of long term exposure to high levels of stress that are below the yield strength of the material....

 in association with stress concentration factors such as fracture toughness
Fracture toughness
In materials science, fracture toughness is a property which describes the ability of a material containing a crack to resist fracture, and is one of the most important properties of any material for virtually all design applications. The fracture toughness of a material is determined from the...

 causes materials to progressively degrade, eventually leading to material failure at an advanced age.
Wear in industrial applications is one of a limited number of fault factors in which an object loses its usefulness and the economic implication can be of enormous value to the industry.

The Archard Equation
Archard equation
The Archard wear equation is a simple model used to describe sliding wear and is based around the theory of asperity contact. The Archard equation was developed later than the Reye's hypothesis, though both came to the same physical conclusions, that the volume of the removed debris due to wear is...

 is the classic wear prediction model - see Bisson

Stages of wear

Under normal mechanical and practical procedures, the wear-rate normally changes through three different stages:
  • Primary stage or early run-in period, where surfaces adapt to each other and the wear-rate might vary between high and low.
  • Secondary stage or mid-age process, where a steady rate of ageing is in motion. Most of the components operational life is comprised in this stage.
  • Tertiary stage or old-age period, where the components are subjected to rapid failure due to a high rate of ageing.

The secondary stage is shortened with increasing severity of environmental conditions such as higher temperatures, strain rates, stress and sliding velocities etc.
In explicit wear tests simulating industrial conditions between metallic surfaces, there are no clear chronological distinction between different wear-stages due to big overlaps and symbiotic relations between various friction mechanisms. Surface engineering
Surface engineering
Surface engineering is the sub-discipline of materials science which deals with the surface of solid matter. It has applications to chemistry, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering ....

 and treatments are used to minimize wear and extend the components working life.


The study of the processes of wear is part of the discipline of tribology
Tribology is the science and engineering of interacting surfaces in relative motion. It includes the study and application of the principles of friction, lubrication and wear...

. The complex nature of wear has delayed its investigations and resulted in isolated studies towards specific wear mechanisms or processes. Some commonly referred to wear mechanisms (or processes) include:
  1. Adhesive wear
  2. Abrasive wear
  3. Surface fatigue
  4. Fretting wear
  5. Erosive wear

A number of different wear phenomena are also commonly encountered and presented in the literature. Impact-, cavitation-, diffusive- and corrosive- wear are all such examples.
These wear mechanisms, however, do not necessarily act independently and wear mechanisms are not mutually exclusive. "Industrial Wear" are commonly described as incidence of multiple wear mechanisms occurring in unison. Another way to describe "Industrial Wear" is to define clear distinctions in how different friction mechanisms operate, for example distinguish between mechanisms with high or low energy density. Wear mechanisms and/or sub-mechanisms frequently overlap and occur in a synergistic manner, producing a greater rate of wear than the sum of the individual wear mechanisms.

Adhesive wear

Adhesive wear can be found between surfaces during friction
Friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and/or material elements sliding against each other. There are several types of friction:...

al contact and generally refers to unwanted displacement and attachment of wear debris and material compounds from one surface to another. Two separate mechanisms operate between the surfaces.
  1. Adhesive wear are caused by relative motion, "direct contact" and plastic deformation which create wear debris and material transfer from one surface to another.
  2. Cohesive adhesive forces, holds two surfaces together even though they are separated by a measurable distance, with or without any actual transfer of material.

The above description and distinction between "Adhesive wear" and its Counterpart "cohesive adhesive forces" are quite common.
Usually cohesive surface forces and adhesive energy potentials between surfaces are examined as a special field in physic departments.
The adhesive wear and material transfer due to direct contact and plastic deformation are examined in engineering science and in industrial research.

Two aligned surfaces may always cause material transfer and due to overlaps and symbiotic relations between relative motional “wear” and “chemical” cohesive attraction, the wear-categorization have been a source for discussion. Consequently, the definitions and nomenclature must evolve with the latest science and empiric observations.

Generally, adhesive wear occurs when two bodies slide over or are pressed into each other, which promote material transfer. This can be described as plastic deformation of very small fragments within the surface layers. The asperities or microscopic high points or surface roughness found on each surface, define the severity on how fragments of oxides are pulled off and adds to the other surface, partly due to strong adhesive forces between atoms but also due to accumulation of energy in the plastic zone between the asperities during relative motion.

The outcome can be a growing roughening and creation of protrusions (i.e., lumps) above the original surface, in industrial manufacturing referred to as galling
Galling usually refers to the adhesive wear and transfer of material between metallic surfaces in relative converging contact during sheet metal forming and other industrial operations....

 , which eventually breaches the oxidized surface layer and connects to the underlying bulk material which enhance the possibility for a stronger adhesion and plastic flow around the lump.
The geometry and the nominal sliding velocity of the lump defines how the flowing material will be transported and accelerated around the lump which is critical to define contact pressure and developed temperature during sliding. The mathematical function for acceleration of flowing material is thereby defined by the lumps surface contour.

It's clear, given these prerequisites, that contact pressure and developed temperature is highly dependent on the lumps geometry.
Flow of material exhibits an increase in energy density, because initial phase transformation and displacement of material demand acceleration of material and high pressure.
Low pressure is not compatible with plastic flow, only after deceleration may the flowing material be exposed to low pressure and quickly cooled. In other words, you can't deform a solid material using direct contact without applying a high pressure and somewhere along the process must acceleration and deceleration take place, i.e., high pressure must be applied on all sides of the deformed material. Flowing material will immediately exhibit energy loss and reduced ability to flow due to phase transformation, if ejected from high pressure into low pressure. This ability withholds the high pressure and energy density in the contact zone and decreases the amount of energy or friction force needed for further advancement when the sliding continues and partly explain the difference between the static and sliding coefficient of friction (μ) if the main fracture mechanisms are equal to the previous.

Adhesive wear is a common fault factor in industrial applications such as sheet metal forming (SMF) and commonly encountered in conjunction with lubricant failures and are often referred to as welding wear or galling due to the exhibited surface characteristics, phase transition and plastic flow followed by cooling.
The type of mechanism and the amplitude of surface attraction, varies between different materials but are amplified by an increase in the density of "surface energy". Most solids will adhere on contact to some extent. However, oxidation films, lubricants and contaminants naturally occurring generally suppress adhesion. and spontaneous exothermic chemical reactions between surfaces generally produce a substance with low energy status in the absorbed species.

Abrasive wear

Abrasive wear occurs when a hard rough surface slides across a softer surface. ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) defines it as the loss of material due to hard particles or hard protuberances that are forced against and move along a solid surface.

Abrasive wear is commonly classified according to the type of contact and the contact environment. The type of contact determines the mode of abrasive wear. The two modes of abrasive wear are known as two-body and three-body abrasive wear. Two-body wear occurs when the grits or hard particles remove material from the opposite surface. The common analogy is that of material being removed or displaced by a cutting or plowing operation. Three-body wear occurs when the particles are not constrained, and are free to roll and slide down a surface. The contact environment determines whether the wear is classified as open or closed. An open contact environment occurs when the surfaces are sufficiently displaced to be independent of one another

There are a number of factors which influence abrasive wear and hence the manner of material removal. Several different mechanisms have been proposed to describe the manner in which the material is removed. Three commonly identified mechanisms of abrasive wear are:
  1. Plowing
  2. Cutting
  3. Fragmentation

Plowing occurs when material is displaced to the side, away from the wear particles, resulting in the formation of grooves that do not involve direct material removal. The displaced material forms ridges adjacent to grooves, which may be removed by subsequent passage of abrasive particles. Cutting occurs when material is separated from the surface in the form of primary debris, or microchips, with little or no material displaced to the sides of the grooves. This mechanism closely resembles conventional machining. Fragmentation occurs when material is separated from a surface by a cutting process and the indenting abrasive causes localized fracture of the wear material. These cracks then freely propagate locally around the wear groove, resulting in additional material removal by spalling.

Abrasive wear can be measured as loss of mass by the Taber Abrasion Test according to ISO 9352 or ASTM D 1044.

Surface fatigue

Surface fatigue is a process by which the surface of a material is weakened by cyclic loading, which is one type of general material fatigue. Fatigue wear is produced when the wear particles are detached by cyclic crack growth of microcracks on the surface. These microcracks are either superficial cracks or subsurface cracks.

Fretting wear

Fretting wear is the repeated cyclical rubbing between two surfaces, which is known as fretting, over a period of time which will remove material from one or both surfaces in contact. It occurs typically in bearings, although most bearings have their surfaces hardened to resist the problem. Another problem occurs when cracks in either surface are created, known as fretting fatigue. It is the more serious of the two phenomena because it can lead to catastrophic failure of the bearing. An associated problem occurs when the small particles removed by wear are oxidised in air. The oxides are usually harder than the underlying metal, so wear accelerates as the harder particles abrade the metal surfaces further. Fretting corrosion acts in the same way, especially when water is present. Unprotected bearings on large structures like bridges can suffer serious degradation in behaviour, especially when salt is used during winter to deice the highways carried by the bridges. The problem of fretting corrosion was involved in the Silver Bridge
Silver Bridge
The Silver Bridge collapsed in 1967, killing 46 people. The terms Silver Bridge or Silverbridge may also refer to:* Silver Memorial Bridge, the replacement for the above bridge, opened in 1969....

 tragedy and the Mianus River Bridge
Mianus River Bridge
The Mianus River Bridge carries Interstate 95 over the Mianus River in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich, Connecticut. The bridge suffered a 1983 collapse, killing several motorists. The replacement span is officially named the Michael L...


Erosive wear

Erosive wear can be described as an extremely short sliding motion and is executed within a short time interval. Erosive wear is caused by the impact of particles of solid or liquid against the surface of an object. The impacting particles gradually remove material from the surface through repeated deformations and cutting actions. It is a widely encountered mechanism in industry. A common example is the erosive wear associated with the movement of slurries through piping and pumping equipment.

The rate of erosive wear is dependent upon a number of factors. The material characteristics of the particles, such as their shape, hardness, impact velocity and impingement angle are primary factors along with the properties of the surface being eroded. The impingement angle is one of the most important factors and is widely recognized in literature. For ductile materials the maximum wear rate is found when the impingement angle is approximately 30°, whilst for non ductile materials the maximum wear rate occurs when the impingement angle is normal to the surface.

See also

  • Rheology
    Rheology is the study of the flow of matter, primarily in the liquid state, but also as 'soft solids' or solids under conditions in which they respond with plastic flow rather than deforming elastically in response to an applied force....

  • Abrasion (mechanical)
    Abrasion (mechanical)
    Abrasion is the process of scuffing, scratching, wearing down, marring, or rubbing away. It can be intentionally imposed in a controlled process using an abrasive...

  • Tribometer
    A tribometer is an instrument that measures tribological quantities, such as coefficient of friction, friction force, and wear volume, between two surfaces in contact...

     — Equipment used to measure wear
  • Concrete degradation
    Concrete degradation
    Concrete degradation may have various causes. Concrete can be damaged by fire, aggregate expansion, sea water effects, bacterial corrosion, calcium leaching, physical damage and chemical damage...

Further reading

  • Bowden, Tabor: Friction and Lubrication of Solids (Oxford:Clarendon Press 1950)
  • Kleis I. and Kulu P.: Solid Particle Erosion. Springer-Verlag, London, 2008, 206 pp.
  • Zum Gahr K.-H.: Microstructure and wear of materials, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1987, 560 S.
  • Jones J.R.:Lubrication, Friction, and Wear, NASA-SP-8063, 1971, 75 pp. A nice, free and good document available here.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.