In this investigation, the sliding wear of polyetheretherketone (PEEK) against smooth (polished) and slightly roughened mild-steel counterfaces was studied under dry, lightly-loaded conditions. In this counterface roughness regime, the wear rate of PEEK decreased to a relative minimum as roughness increased. The worn system of PEEK against polished steel was simulated using several contact models. The application of a numerical non-Hertzian elastic stress analysis yielded estimates of subsurface stresses, which were correlated with results of wear particle morphological studies. As counterface roughness increased, minor changes were observed in the wear mechanism. Wear particle morphology, however, displayed evidence of mechanical counterface interaction resulting in interfacial film formation and reduced wear.

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