Wear Mechanisms

Low-stress Abrasion

Also known as scratching abrasion, this is the most common wear mechanism and can be seen as shallow “furrows” on part surfaces.

High-stress Abrasion

Plastic deformation of surfaces in response to heavier loads than scratching abrasion. Typically appear as deep scratches or pitting. Damage is typically more severe than low-stress abrasion.

Gouging Abrasion

Material removal caused by the action of repetitive, compressive loading by hard materials against softer surfaces. Typically occurs in conjunction with high- or low-stress abrasion.

Polishing Abrasion

Progressive removal of surface material through rubbing action of other solids. Material removal can trigger dimensional changes that make parts unusable. Typically takes place without visible scratching, fracture or plastic deformation of the surface. Surfaces subject to polishing wear are usually smoothed and brightened.

Fretting Abrasion.

Small-amplitude oscillatory movement between two solid surfaces. Usually results form tangential motion between parts that are not supposed to move relative to one another.

Adhesive Abrasion.

Localized bonding between connecting solid surfaces that lead to material transfer between the two surfaces or loss from either surface.

Seizure Abrasion

Interfacial friction that results in a stoppage of relative motion between surfaces. Does not necessarily result in progressive material loss.


Localized damage caused by the occurrence of solid-phase, or melt-free, welding between sliding surfaces. Also known as scuffing in Europe.

Oxidative Abrasion

The formation of oxide films between sliding surfaces as a result of chemical reactions. Typically found in lightly-loaded systems. Also known as mild wear.

Solid Impingement

Erosion caused by solid particles impacting a softer surface. Known as repeated impact when particles repeatedly hit the same spot.

Fluid Impingement

Progressive material removal from a solid surface due to the striking action of a fluid.

Cavitation Wear

Progressive loss of surface material due to the nearby collapse of bubbles in a fluid medium. Collapsing bubbles create localized liquid jets capable of removing even robust surfaces.

Slurry Erosion

Progressive loss of material from a solid surface by a mixture of solid particles suspended in a moving liquid. Can contain corrosive elements if the solid surface corrodes in the slurry’s liquid portion.


Cavities formed in surface materials in response to fatigue loads. Frequently occurs in rolling motion applications—including bearings, gears, worm wheels and cam paths.

Spalling Surface Fatigue

Particles fractures from surfaces in response to fatigue loads. Frequently occurs in rolling motion applications—including bearings, gears, worm wheels and cam paths. Electroplated wear surfaces are prone to spalling.

Impact Surface Fatigue

Material damage and removal resulting from repetitive impacting of two solid surfaces. Examples include the dame that occurs on the heads of high-speed riveting hammers.


Surface damage of solids by repeated local impact or by static overload.

More in this category: « Thread Dimensional Changes