The mechanics of subsurface crack propagation in sliding wear of elastoplastic solids was investigated using the finite element method. The subsurface cracks, which experience both compressive and tangential loading, propagate along the direction of maximum shear stress and grow in a ductile manner due to plastic deformation of the crack tips. Based on the assumption that the crack growth rate is equal to the crack-tip sliding displacement, the wear rate was predicted for the case of crack propagation controlled delamination wear which compares favorably with the experimentally determined wear rates. According to the FEM results, linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM), which was previously used to determine the wear rate, is not an appropriate method of predicting the wear rate because of the large plastic deformation at the crack tip.

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