A mathematical model is presented in this paper that can be used to analyze the effect of 3-D surface topography on the thermal, transient micro-elastohydrodynamic lubrication (EHL). The model efficiently incorporates the surface deformation due to the 3D pressure rippling and the lubricant side flow around the asperities. The resulting computer implementation requires little additional storage space and does not reduce computational efficiency from its 2-D counterpart. The model is shown to sensibly describe the physical problems. The results presented in this paper and in a separate paper (Chang et al., 1993c) show that the lubricant local side flow significantly affects the contact conditions of the EHL of rough surfaces, especially under high sliding. The work reported thus far represents the authors’ continuing effort to develop an analytical/computational model for tribo-systems operating in the micro-EHL/mixed-lubrication regime. Work in the future will model and integrate the asperity contact mechanics and lubricant-surface tribo-chemistry in the micro-EHL environment.

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