Total joint replacements traditionally employ ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) as a bearing material due to its desirable material properties and biocompatibility. Failure of these polyethylene bearings can lead to expensive and risky revision surgery, necessitating a better understanding of UHMWPE’s tribological properties. A six-station rolling/sliding machine was developed to study the behavior of accelerated-aged UHMWPE in cylinder-on-cylinder contact. The normal load and sliding/rolling ratio in the oscillatory contacts can be controlled separately for each test station, as can the liquid test environment. Fatigue tests were run on the machine with UHMWPE versus cobalt-chrome cylinders in a distilled water environment at normal contact pressures of approximately 20 MPa. All specimens failed by subsurface cracking during tribotesting on the machine, and the failures were similar to those that occur in-vivo. The fatigue behavior of the polymer was analyzed to determine its relationship to oxidation and stress state in the rolling/sliding cylinder. At the 20 MPa test load, the number of cycles to fatigue failure by subsurface cracking was inversely proportional to the oxidation level. Analysis of the stress levels through the bulk of the polyethylene specimens and their relationship to the material properties provide insight as to why cracks initiate and propagate subsurface.
A Multi-Station Rolling/Sliding Tribotester for Knee Bearing Materials
Contributed by the Tribology Division for publication in the ASME JOURNAL OF TRIBOLOGY. Manuscript received by the Tribology Division March 21, 2003; revised manuscript received September 18, 2003. Associate Editor: Q. J. Wang.
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Van Citters , D. W., Kennedy , F. E., Currier , J. H., Collier , J. P., and Nichols, T. D. (April 19, 2004). "A Multi-Station Rolling/Sliding Tribotester for Knee Bearing Materials ." ASME. J. Tribol. April 2004; 126(2): 380–385. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.1645536
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