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Polymer mechanics and tribology

Nikolai K. Myshkin (Department of Tribology, Metal-Polymer Research Institute, Belarus National Academy of Sciences, Gomel, Belarus)
Alexander Kovalev (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China)

Industrial Lubrication and Tribology

ISSN: 0036-8792

Article publication date: 8 May 2018



The purpose of this paper is to review the advances in mechanics and tribology of polymers and polymer-based materials. It is focused on the understanding of the correlation of contact mechanics and the tribological behavior of polymers and polymer composites by taking account of surface forces and adhesion in the contact.


Mechanical behavior of polymers is considered a viscoelasticity. Tribological performance is estimated while considering the parts of deformation and adhesion in friction arising in the contact. Surface energy, roughness, load and temperature effects on the tribological behavior of polymers are evaluated. Polymer composites produced by reinforcing and by the addition of functional additives are considered as materials for various applications in tribology. Particular attention is given to polymer-based nanocomposites.


A review of studies in tribology has shown that polymer-based materials can be most successfully used as self-lubricating components of sliding bearings. The use of the fillers provides changes in the tribological performance of neat polymers and widens their areas of application in the industry. Thin polymer films were found to be prospective lubricants for memory storage devices, micro-electro-mechanical systems and precision mechanisms. Further progress in polymer tribology should be achieved on solving the problems of contact mechanics, surface physics and tribochemistry by taking account of the scale factor.


The review is based on the experience of the authors in polymer mechanics and tribology, their research data and on data of many other literature sources published in this area. It can be useful for specialists in polymer research and industrial engineers working in tribology and industrial lubrication.



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) with grant No. 51635009 and the Tsinghua University Initiative Scientific Research Program (No.2015THZ0).


Myshkin, N.K. and Kovalev, A. (2018), "Polymer mechanics and tribology", Industrial Lubrication and Tribology, Vol. 70 No. 4, pp. 764-772.



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