Friction Reduction Effect of Soft Coatings

Finite element analysis is conducted on an elastic-plastic full stick contact between a rigid flat and a deformable coated sphere with a soft coating. A combined normal and tangential load is applied to the rigid flat, and the sliding inception is assumed as a result of the decreasing tangential stiffness of the contact junction. As the coating becomes thicker, the static friction coefficient first decreases reaching a minimum and then increases. This demonstrates a friction reduction effect of soft coatings that is opposite to hard coatings. The static friction coefficient decreases with increasing normal load as the contact junction contains more plasticity and becomes more compliant.