This paper discusses critically some of the major processes that are likely to be involved in wear and to ask questions that might generate useful and creative responses. For simplicity wear processes are divided into three groups. The first type is that in which wear arises primarily from adhesion between the sliding surfaces; the second is that deriving primarily from nonadhesive processes; and the third is that very broad class in which there is interaction between the adhesive and nonadhesive processes to produce a type of wear that seems to have characteristics of its own. The paper deals with metals, polymers, and ceramics and concludes with the view that, on account of the complex interaction of various wear mechanisms, the constant challenge to predict the wear of any given system, based on material properties, is unlikely to be surmounted for many years to come.

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