Fretting wear at the dimple/gimbal interface of a hard disk drive suspension was investigated for stainless steel dimples in contact with stainless steel gimbals coated with diamondlike carbon (DLC) of different thicknesses and different elastic moduli. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to evaluate the size and characteristics of the wear scar of both the dimple and the gimbal. Fretting wear and fatigue-type cracks were found predominantly on the dimple. For different dimple/gimbal combinations tested in this study, the least amount of wear was obtained for the case of a 690 nm thick DLC overcoat. Numerical simulations were performed to calculate the maximum principal stress in the dimple and the gimbal with the goal of correlating wear and the maximum principal stress. The maximum principal stress in both the dimple and the gimbal was found to increase with an increase of the elastic modulus of the DLC overcoat on the gimbal. On comparing the experimental and simulation results, we conclude that wear and fatigue crack formation can be explained by the different level of the maximum principal stress in both the dimple and the gimbal.

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