Seizure phenomena in pin-on-disk tests have been studied for “soft” and “hard” steel specimens. Differences in competing and dominant wear mechanisms under steady state friction have been preserved for “soft” and “hard” specimens in the region of transition to seizure or galling. Severe wear was observed for “soft” specimens under all loads tested, while adhesion and splitting off of wear particle conglomerates (microseizure) were identified for “hard” specimens. The contact temperature, calculated in accordance with the temperature model of plastically deformed contact spots (Kuhlmann-Wilsdorf), has appeared to be low for “soft” specimens and not sufficient for adhesion interaction. The effect of oxide films on the friction of “hard” specimens has been estimated in accordance with the temperature model for a coated semi-infinite body (Tian and Kennedy). The insulated oxide films on the surface of “hard” specimens create the “skin effect” and lead, therefore, to raising the temperature up to the temperature of adhesion interaction. Temperature instability of hard surfaces has been demonstrated to result from the “skin effect” and from a disturbance in equilibrium of formation and failure of oxide films. It has been shown that for “soft” specimens the prime cause of transition to seizure was the mechanical interlocking between the wear particles and the soft disk surface combined with mechanical instability, while for “hard” specimens the cause was temperature instability. A more realistic temperature model of the contact has been considered, which takes into account some competing wear mechanisms (oxidational wear, ploughing, delamination) and the effect of wear particles.

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