The elastohydrodynamic problem of normal approach of two spherical bodies is studied and the lubrication and elasticity equations governing this type of motion are established. Numerical solutions to the general case accounting for elastic deformation of the bodies and pressure dependent viscosity are presented. It is found that for values of central film thickness that are not too small, the load and relative approach velocity is much more influenced by the increase of viscosity with pressure than by the effects of elastic distortion. Once the separation of the two surfaces becomes small enough, however, the effects of elastic deformation will profoundly influence all aspects of the motion. The transition film thickness HT at which this change takes place is sharply defined and for metallic contacts lubricated with mineral oils quite small, even compared to the surface roughness. Very high pressure—considerably in excess of the Hertzian maximum pressure corresponding to the load—can be generated by the normal approach motion. The maximum value of pressure is generated when film thickness reaches its transition value HT for the load in question. For loads sufficiently large to generate a high enough pressure in the oil film a small increase in load will cause a large increase in maximum pressure. Once the pressure has reached a high enough value it becomes extremely sensitive to a further increase in load.

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