Soft elastohydrodynamic lubrication (soft-EHL) is an important mechanism in biotribological systems. The soft-EHL has some distinct differences from the traditional hard-EHL, and a systematic analysis factoring in key features of the "softness" appears to be lacking. In this paper, a complete soft-EHL line-contact model is developed. In the model, the half-space approximation is replaced by the finite thickness analysis; the geometrical and material nonlinearity due to finite deformation is factored in; the surface velocities altered by the curvature effect are considered, and the load balance equation is formulated based on the deformed configuration. Solutions are obtained using a finite element method (FEM). The film thickness, pressure distributions, and material deformation are analyzed and discussed under various entraining velocities, elastic modulus, and material thickness of the soft layer. Comparisons are made between soft-EHL and hard-EHL modeling assumptions. The analyses show that the classical EHL modeling is not suitable for soft materials with high loads. The results show that the finite deformation (Green strain) should be considered in soft-EHL analysis. In the contact region, the hard EHL solver overestimates the pressure distribution and underestimates the film thickness and deformation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Surfaces and Interfaces
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films