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What is an Abrasion Test?

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  • Written By: Kirsten C. Tynan
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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An abrasion test is a test used to measure the resistance of a material to wear stemming from sliding contact such as rubbing, grinding, or scraping against another material. An abrasion test may also be referred to as wear testing, as an abrasion resistance test, or simply as a resistance test. Wear testing is of interest in a number of technical fields, including civil and mechanical engineering, reliability engineering, metallurgy, and geology. These tests are of importance in ensuring the durability of a material in a particular product or application, and in ensuring that material that erodes because of abrasion does not cause environmental or safety hazards in the production or test environments or in use of the product.

Several factors are typically considered in developing or selecting an appropriate abrasion test for the application at hand. The shape of the contact area is taken into consideration, as is the composition of the two surfaces making contact with one another. Speed of sliding contact between the two surfaces, the force with which they act on one another, and the duration of contact between them may also be considered. In addition to the materials themselves, the environment in which they are making contact also plays a role in selecting an appropriate abrasion test.

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Wear testing may take many forms, depending on these factors. For example, textile abrasion resistance might be tested by rubbing a fabric against another fabric for a given number of cycles to simulate abrasion that might occur in the life of a pair of trousers. A test in which samples are loaded into a tumbler that is rotated for a given number of cycles might be used to test charcoal briquettes for surface wear during transportation and handling. The test instrumentation used will depend on the abrasion test selected as well as the size and material composition of the items to be tested.

Abrasion may be measured in a variety of ways, depending on the resistance test used and the information that is desired from the test. For example, where the amount of material lost is a concern regardless of whether the material fails, abrasion may be measured in terms of the percentage of material lost, either by mass or by volume, between the start and end of the test. Another measure sometimes used is the number of abrasion cycles a material withstands before failure. This would be more appropriate if information on how long the material or product will survive before outright failure is of primary interest.

Surface wear may be tested in a vast array of materials and products, including rope, concrete, iron ore, paint, ceramic tiles and footwear. While custom tests may be developed, standardized tests developed for a particular industry, material, or product are often used as a cost-reduction measure or to make accurate comparisons between test samples. Several technical organizations maintain abrasion test standards for their specific industries.

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