Friction is often a nuisance, but it can be useful too. Brakes, clutches, and tires rely on it, of course, though the inevitable fractional heat remains a problem. Other applications use frictional heat: friction cutting and welding, skiing, skating, and curling. The damage to magnetic disks caused by head-disk contact and the striking of matches are also examples.
This article illustrates a framework where the thermal aspects of friction can be analyzed in an informative way. It uses a unified approach to the calculation of flash and bulk heating, and a helpful diagram—the frictional temperature map—to display the results. The method is approximate, but the approximations have been carefully chosen and calibrated to give precision adequate to most tasks, and the gain in simplicity is great.
The symbols used in this article are defined in Table I.
When two contacting solids 1 and 2, pressed together by a normal force F, slide at a relative velocity ν and with coefficient of friction ü, heat is generated at the surface where they meet. The heat generated, q, per unit of nominal contact area, An, per second is
The heat flows into the two solids, partitioned between them in a way that depends on their geometry and thermal properties. Figure 1 shows one geometry commonly used for laboratory tests: the pin-on-disk configuration. The pin is identified by the subscript 1, the disk by subscript 2. Solid 1 can have properties which differ from those of solid 2.