During the relative motion of surfaces, which are in partial contact, asperities on them interact with one another. A pair of contacting asperities has been modeled as a rigid body contacting an elasto plastic half-space under combined normal and tangential loading. A displacement formulation of the finite element method was used to solve for stresses and displacements. An elastic-plastic type of material behavior with linear strain-hardening was assumed. Results have been obtained for normal approach only, and for normal approach with tangential displacement. At sufficiently high loads, a significant portion of the material under the contact area is in the plastic regime. However, the elastic region lying beneath the plastified area appears to have a major influence on the peak contact pressure and the tangential compliance of contacting bodies. Small relative tangential displacements were found to have only a slight influence on the pressure distribution, but their influence on the extent of the plastified area was found to be significant. These findings may be important for the analytical modeling of surface interactions.

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