Evaluation of Frictional Characteristics of Precision Machined Surfaces

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Kalil, Richard Charles, Jr.
Melkote, Shreyes N.
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Precision surface finishes are used in a wide variety of applications. From bearing races and rolling elements to parallel slide ways, the frictional characteristics of these surfaces are critical to the performance of the products. Experimental trial and error has shown that certain surfaces outperform others in certain applications, but the specific surface characteristics that make this true have yet to be fully understood. The research goal was to develop an apparatus that can test the coefficient of rolling/sliding friction of different precision machined surfaces and to combine this data with topographic analysis of the surfaces to correlate specific 3-D parameters with the frictional performance of a surface. The sample treatments consisted of four different surface textures (hard-turned, ground, honed and isotropic finish) and four different relative surface speeds. By monitoring the torque in the sample-mounting shaft under lubricated conditions the coefficient of rolling/sliding friction of each surface was found. Utilizing white light interferometry measurement of the surfaces, a highly detailed map of each surface was obtained. Using different characteristic values of each machined surface (RMS roughness, asperity density, lay direction, etc.), the frictional behavior of the surfaces were compared to the surface characteristics yielding insight into the relationship between surface finish and friction in rolling/sliding contact. Friction coefficient was found to correlate most strongly with RMS roughness (Sq) and density of surface summits (Sds). These parameters govern mechanical interference of asperities and surface adhesion respectively. These findings suggest that friction coefficients of surfaces could be optimized through manipulation of three-dimensional surface parameters.
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