1 Static & Dynamic Friction


In the preceding lectures, it was assumed that surfaces in contact were either frictionless or rough. If they were frictionless, the force each surface exerted on the other was normal to the surfaces and the two surfaces could move freely with respect to each other. If they were rough, it was assumed that tangential forces could develop to prevent the motion of one surface with respect to the other. Actually, no perfectly friction- less surface exists. When two surfaces are in contact, tangential forces, called friction forces, will always develop if one attempts to move one surface with respect to the other. On the other hand, these friction forces are limited in magnitude and will not prevent motion if sufficiently large forces are applied. The distinction between frictionless and rough surfaces is thus a matter of degree. This will be seen more clearly in the present lecture, which is devoted to the study of friction and of its applications to common engineering situations.

There are two types of friction:

  1. Dry friction (or Coulomb friction).
  2. Fluid friction.

Fluid friction develops between layers of fluid moving at different velocities. Fluid friction is of great importance in problems involving the flow of fluids through pipes and orifices or dealing with bodies immersed in moving fluids. It is also basic in the analysis of the motion of lubricated mechanisms. Such problems are considered in texts on fluid mechanics.

The present study is limited to dry friction, i.e., to problems involving rigid bodies which are in contact along non-lubricated surfaces. Firstly, the equilibrium of various rigid bodies and structures, assuming dry friction at the surfaces of contact, is analyzed. Later a number of specific engineering applications where dry friction plays an important role are considered: wedges, square-threaded screws, rolling resistance and belt friction.