Paper: A state-of-the-art review on the effects of particulate contamination and related topics in machine-element contacts.

Authors: George K. Nikas

Where: Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), Part J: Journal of Engineering Tribology, 2010, 224(J5), 453-479. Available from the publisher.


    Contamination of machine-element contacts by solid particles is a serious problem in all industrial sectors. Particles ranging in size from nanometres to micrometres are responsible for increased wear and even catastrophic failures of bearings, gears, seals, mechanisms and machines. The wear such contaminants can cause is abrasion, surface indentation, flaking, and even scuffing, depending on the operating conditions and the mechanical properties of the particulates.

    The literature on the effects of debris particles in mechanism and machine reliability is voluminous. There are theoretical studies covering the entrainment, entrapment and passage of particles through concentrated contacts, experimental and theoretical studies on the wear caused in such incidents, studies on the effects of air and lubricant filtration on machine life, and other related research work. The goal is to determine the consequences of having debris particles in a mechanical system and to develop methods to prevent the presence of particles in order to maximise the life expectancy of the system.

    This article is a review of the related research available in the literature. It covers more than 150 years of research, with the largest volume of work concentrated in the last 30 years. The review discusses over 230 of the most important publications and aims to be a definitive point of reference for the work done up to the year 2009.

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