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Rolling contact fatigue is responsible for a large number of industrial equipment failures. It is also one of the main failure modes of components subjected to rolling contact loading such as bearings, cams, and gears. To better understand such failures, an investigation was conducted to assess the role of friction in subsurface fatigue cracking in rolling-sliding contact applications. Based on the results of stress calculations and x-ray diffraction testing of steel samples, friction contributes to subsurface damage primary through its effect on the distribution of orthogonal shear stress. Although friction influences other stress components, the effect is relatively insignificant by comparison. It is thus more appropriate to select orthogonal shear stress as the critical stress when assessing subsurface rolling contact fatigue in rolling-sliding systems.

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