The process of unloading an elastic-plastic loaded sphere in contact with a rigid flat is studied by the Finite Element Method. The sphere material is assumed isotropic with elastic-linear hardening. The numerical simulations cover a wide range of loading interference deformation of various values of Young’s modulus and Poisson ratios of the sphere material. The contact loads, stresses, and deformations in the sphere during both loading and unloading, are calculated for the range of interferences. Empirical dimensionless expressions are presented for the unloading load-deformation relation, the residual axial displacement and the residual curvature of the sphere after complete unloading.

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