Reducing Friction

Friction will occur at any place where two surfaces come into contact with each other. Friction can cause energy losses that create unwanted heat, deformation, and wear. This can reduce the lifetime and increase the cost of the products you design.

However, friction also helps us move around. Consider how our tires grip the road. With a thorough understanding of how friction works, engineers can create designs that reduce friction and resulting energy losses, while maintaining the benefits of friction when it’s helpful.

Mechanical Friction Basics

Friction forces oppose the direction of motion and can vary greatly based on the materials in contact, temperature, pressure, and whether the objects are stationary or moving. The coefficient of friction, μ, determines the friction force and is derived experimentally.The higher this number, the greater the resistance.

There are a variety of strategies to minimize μ and reduce unwanted friction. These include switching materials, using lubricants, adding wheels, and even preventing objects from touching using magnetics and acoustics. Reducing friction is studied in-depth in the engineering field of tribology.

Simulating Mechanical Friction

Simulation software can help designers see the effects of friction in their designs. Autodesk® Simulation Multiphysics software can run mechanical event simulations (MES) that take the coefficient of friction into account, and provide visual and technical data to help optimize your design for energy effectiveness.