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When a body moves or tends to move on another body, a force appears

between the surfaces. This force is called force of friction and it acts
opposite to the direction of motion. Its line of action is at a tangent to
the contacting surfaces (e. g normal reaction forces. The magnitude of
this force depends on the roughness of surfaces.
Friction can be both a nuisance or useful in human civilization. For
instance it useful in power transmission by belts , in the application of
brakes ,screws jack ,bolts .It also undesirable in bearing and moving part
machines where it results in the loss of energy there by reducing the
efficiency of a machines.

1.0 Friction

When a body moves or have a tendency to move on another body, a

force appears between the surfaces. This force is called force of friction
and it acts contrary to the direction of motion. Its line of action is at a
tangent to the contacting surfaces ( e. g normal reaction force). SS
Bhavikatti .The magnitude of this force depends on the roughness of


There are two types of friction:
(a) Friction in un-lubricated surfaces or dry surfaces, and
(b) Friction in lubricate surfaces.
The friction that exists when one dry surface slides over another dry
surface is known as dry friction.
If between the two surfaces a layer of an oil or lubricant is introduced, a
film of such lubrication is formed on both the surfaces. When a surface
moves on the other, in effect, it is one layer of oil moving on the other
and there is no direct contact between the surfaces. The friction is
greatly reduced and is known a film friction.
2.1 Friction in dry surfaces
Dry friction occurs in various scenarios namely;
Ø Uneven surfaces of bodies in contact (different degrees of
roughness of bodies in contact).
Ø Molecular attraction of particles of surfaces in contact

2.2Types of dry friction

1. Static friction
In other words this is friction encountered before motion occurs (‘just’
before motion of the body).
Static friction is resistance equal to the force required to make the
body move.
2. Kinetic friction
When a body moves relative to another body, the resisting force
between them is called kinetic or sliding friction. It has been
experimentally found that the kinetic friction is less than the
maximum static friction.
This is because fewer parts of the object are in contact with a surface
once a body is in motion.
It is a value that shows the relationship the force of friction between
two objects and the normal force between objects.
It is given by the following equation;
= !", Where, , !#$%&#" are frictional force, coefficient of friction
force and normal reaction force respectively?
ð = "It is dimensionless, does not have units, it is a scalar thus the
direction of the coefficient does not affect any physical quantities.
Its value depends on the object in contact.
Its range is from 0≤ ≤1 with #=0 meaning that there is no friction
between the two bodies in contact and =1, means the frictional force
is equal to the normal friction. >1 means the frictional force is
greater than the normal force. E.g. an object such as silicon rubber.

Consider figure b. below

Figure b
The normal reaction on the body and the frictional force tend to have
a resultant force. Thus the ratio between the frictional forces to
normal force is called co efficient of friction. It’s a constant for every
material. The angle between the normal and the resultant R is called
the angle of friction.
The coefficient of friction is different for different substances and
even varies for different conditions of the same two surfaces.

Consider figure S below

Figure S
An object lying on a surface horizontal, forces acting on the block are
its weight and reaction of surface N.
Small force P applied along the surface to block. For Block to remain
at rest, in equilibrium, a horizontal component F of the surface
reaction is required. As P gradually increases, the static-friction force
F Increases as well until it reaches a maximum. Value Fm. F is a static-
friction force.

The value of static friction (F) when the body just about to move is
called limiting friction or maximum static friction.
Fm = μ sN , where Fm is the maximum friction , coefficient of friction
and sN is the surface reaction .
Further increase in P causes the block to begin to move as F drops to
a smaller kinetic-friction force Fk.
3.0 Laws of friction.

(a) The friction force is directly proportionate to the normal reaction

between the surfaces.
(b) The frictional force opposes the motion or its trend to the motion.
(c) The frictional force depends upon the nature of the surfaces in
contact. (I.e. how rough or smooth is an object)
(d) The frictional force does not depend on the surface area and the
shape of the contacting surfaces.
(e) For moderate speeds, frictional force is independent of the relative
velocities of the bodies in contact

Law number three can be explained in this way. Two objects may have
different surface areas but if they weigh the same amount, they will exert
the same frictional force.

4.0 Importance of friction

There are many instances where friction is so crucial. In transport systems,
it makes the wheels of locomotives grip the rails of the track. Whereas
also the tyres of cars have threads so as to increase friction between the
road surface and tire. This increases the grip of the car on the road
reducing accidents. Moreover friction is used by cars on bending roads
that is on banked roads, to balance the centripetal force. In braking
systems of automobiles friction between brake pads and the discs are is
used to stop motion of vehicles.
In industries it allows conveyer belts to turn without on pulleys without
slipping. Moreover carpenters when smoothening their articles they use
sand papers or sandering which uses a lot of friction between the
sandering surface and the wood.
Walking uses friction so that people would not slip.

4.1 Disadvantages of friction

Friction produces heat which may result fires. Also shoes, machinery got
worn out because of friction. Thus to reduce friction in such cases use of
lubricants like oil are used, and grease.

5.0 Angle of friction

Suppose a body is on a horizontal plane the angle of friction is given by
theta on the diagram above .To find theta we need to first find the resultant
of the force R normal to the plane and the frictional force to give us L the
Angle of friction can be applied to any plane surface.
The Pythagoras theorem is applied to find Lowered L will be the

5.1Angle of Repose
Angle of repose is applied in solid bodies and granular materials
Solid Bodies
The angle of repose is the maximum angle that a surface can be titled from
the horizontal, such that an object on it able to stay on surface without
sliding. This is applied when an object is just about to move but not yet

According to the diagram, if the angle shown is continuously increased a

point is reached when the gravitational force will be more than the
frictional force so that angle just before sliding is the angle of repose.

5.2 Granular friction

In granular materials this is the maximum angle in which the material do
no slip off a hip and this is the critical angle for the materials in a hip can
hold on without slumping.

5.3 Cone friction

Considering the diagrams shown below ON represent the normal

reaction offered by a surface of a body. If OX is the direction of the body
tends to move then the force of friction in the opposite along OE .If the
body is in limiting equilibrium then the resultant R make an angle


Consider a particle of mass m1 which is on a rough horizontal plane. Given

a horizontal force of magnitude S is applied the assuming the particle
remains in equilibrium ,the magnitude of the frictional force ,F, opposing
any motion will be equal to S i.e.


F ←
→ S


If S gradually increased then F also increases as long as the particle

remains at rest so the equation F=S still is true but F cannot increase
indefinitely it can only increase up to a limit F max.
The normal reaction is the force perpendicular to the contact surface.
Fmax = µR
Points to note
1. The frictional force is said to be limiting when it equals its maximum
2. The inequality F<= µR is always true.
3. Unless told otherwise the friction is always assumed to be limiting.
There are instances however where the body moves in the direction of the
force applied .In this case: F>F max slipping occurs
F<F max no slipping occurs
There are also instances where the body accelerates in the direction of the
force applied. In this case it means the force that acted on the body is more
than the limiting frictional force.
And in this case the equation is F-S = ma
Where F is the applied force
S is the force of friction
M a is the resultant force
This equation applies in both horizontal surfaces and inclined planes.

The diagram shows a body on an inclined plane and the different forces
acting on it.
N represents the normal reaction
f represents the frictional force
mg is the weight
Now we have to resolve the forces along the plane of equilibrium and the
perpendicular to the plane. Resolving along the plane gives us mgsinƟ
.Resolving perpendicular gives us mgcosƟ.
There are cases where there is a force apart from the frictional force which
is acting on the body.
In this case Fa is needed to move the body up the plane and Fs(µN) is the
frictional force opposing the motion. Notice the difference of the forces
on the body along the plane is Fa -µN since P will be greater than the
frictional force for the body to be moved.
Resolving perpendicular; N = WcosƟ
Resolving along the plane; Fa = µN +WsinƟ (this shows that the body is
moving in the direction of Fa.
7.0 Application of friction to blocks on inclined planes
There’s an extra force to deal with. The force of friction will oppose the
downhill component of the gravitational force.
Because energy is being lost through the friction between the mass and
the inclined plane, the law of conservation of mechanical energy is not
When an object makes an effort to move there is static frictional force
and this frictional force restricts movement
There is kinetic frictional force is e blocks slides on a horizontal plane or
inclined plane…
If a body rests on an incline plane, the friction force exerted on it by the
surface prevents it from sliding down the incline. Consider a mass m
resting on an inclined plane. If the angle of inclination is slowly increased,
a stage will come when the block of mass m will tend to slide down. This
angle of the plane with horizontal plane is known as angle of repose. For
satisfying the conditions of equilibrium all the forces are resolved parallel
to the plane and perpendicular to it.

7.1 Application of friction to blocks on horizontal planes

Figure 7.1 shows the free-body diagram of the body, where the force W
is the weight force of the body, and N is the normal force exerted by the
surface on the body. The force P is the horizontal force, and F is the
friction force exerted by the surface. Friction force arises in part from the
interactions of the roughness, or asperities, of the contacting surfaces.
The body is in equilibrium and F =P. The force P is slowly increased. As
long as the body remains in equilibrium, the friction force F must
increase correspondingly, since it equals the force P. The body slips on
the surface.
The friction force, after reaching the maximum value, cannot maintain
the body in equilibrium. The force applied to keep the body moving on
the surface is smaller than the force required to cause it to slip. Why
more force is required to start the body sliding on a surface than to keep
it sliding is explained in part by the necessity to break the asperities of
the contacting surfaces before sliding can begin.
Figure 7.1
With increase of the pull or attractive force, the frictional force; the
resultant reaction and its inclination will increase.
The frictional resistance offered so long as the body does not move, is
known as static friction. F1 and F2 are the static frictional forces. It may
be noted that the direction of the resultant reaction RR is such that it
opposes the motion.
The ultimate value of static friction (F) when the body just tends to move
is called limiting friction or maximum static friction or friction of
impending slide. The condition, when all the forces are just in equilibrium
and the body has a tendency to move, is called limiting equilibrium
position. When a body moves relative to another body, the resisting
force between them is called kinetic or sliding friction. It has been
experimentally found that the kinetic friction is less than the maximum
static friction

7.2 Least force required to drag a body on a rough horizontal surface

If a block is placed on a horizontal surface and a force is applied at an

angleϴ with the horizontal such that the block tends to move.
Resolving vertically
For sum of all vertical forces = 0
Mg - FSinϴ = 0
Resolving horizontally FCosϴ = f = µR = µ(mg - FSinϴ)
FCosϴ = Sinϴ/Cos ϴ (mg - FSinϴ)
FCosϴCosΦ = mgSinΦ - FSinϴ SinΦ
FCosϴCosΦ + FSinϴΦ = mgSinΦ
F(CosϴCosΦ + SinϴΦ = mgSinΦ
FCos(ϴ - Φ) = mgSinΦ
F = mgSinΦ/Cos(ϴ - Φ)

For F to be least,the denominator Cos(ϴ - Φ) must be maximum and it

will be so if Cos(ϴ - Φ) = 1 or ϴ - Φ = 0
Φ = ϴ for the least value of F
F least = mgSinΦ
Hence the force F will be the least if its angle of its inclination with the
horizontal is equal to the angle of friction.

Ladders are commonly used to climb walls or roofs and many times we
have experienced ladders slip causing harm to the people using them. To
understand this phenomenon we must check the equilibrium status of all
acting forces in this non concurrent force system

Fn2 is the reaction on the wall

Fn2 is the reaction on the ground
Ff1 is the force of friction on the ground
Ff2 is the force of friction on the wall
Due to the self-weight of the ladder or when a man stands on the ladder
the upper part of ladder tends to slip downwards and hence the force of
friction between the ladder and the vertical Ff1 and similarly the lower part
of the ladder tends to move towards the right hence the friction is towards
the left.






A ladder of length Lm and weight WL is resting against the wall making

an angle of Ɵ.The coefficient of friction between the ladder and the wall
is µb.
A person of weight WM starts to climb on the wall. Given
AB = L metres hence OA = LcosƟ
OB = LsinƟ
As the weight of the ladder will act at its centre AN = OA = LcosƟ
! !

Lets assume the person will climb up to a height of X metres from A and
that at that point the ladder started slipping.
Hence OM = XcosƟ
For the equilibrium of the system, the algebraic sum of the horizontal and
vertical components of the forces must be zero. Also the moments of all
the forces should be 0 about any point.
∑Fy = 0 therefore µbRB + RA = WL + WM
∑Fx = 0 therefore µaRB = RB

µbµaRA + RA = WL + WM
RA(1 + µaµb) = WL + WM
RA = WL + WM
1 + µaµb

Therefore RB = µa × WL + WM
1 + µaµb
We then apply moment equations;
∑MA = 0

WL×AN + WM×AM = RB×OB + µb RB ×OA

9.0 Belt Friction
Each time band brakes or belt drives are made, the necessity of
calculating the frictional force and to some extent, the torsional forces,
occurs. In this case, flat belt frictional forces are the ones to be analyzed
to highlight this concept and the principles to be used are similar to the
ones used for analysis of various types of belts with v-belts included.
Through the application of this concept, flat belts are often used to
transmit torque developed by a motor to a wheel attached to a pump,
fan or blower.
Hibbeler explained this concept as follows:
The diagram, (b), above shows a free body diagram of a flat belt which
passes over a fixed curved surface. The total angle of belt to surface
contact in radians is β, the coefficient of friction between the two
surfaces is µ. We wish to determine the tension ! in the belt, which is
needed to pull the belt counterclockwise over the surface, and thereby
overcome both the frictional forces at the surface of contact and the
tension " in the other end of the belt. Obviously,# ! > "# .
Due to this unknown distribution, the analysis of the problem will first
require a study of the forces acting on a differential element of the belt.

A free diagram of an element having a length ds is shown in the diagram

above. Assuming either impending motion or motion of the belt, the
magnitude of the frictional force dF=µdv. This force opposes the sliding
motion of the belt, and so it will increase the magnitude of the tensile
force acting in the belt by dT. Applying the two force equations of
equilibrium, we have
'( '(
+!"# = 0$$$$$$$$$% cos & ) + *', - .% - '%/ cos & ) = 0
2 2
'( '(
+1 !"3 = 0$$$$$$', - .% + '%/ sin & ) - 4sin & ) = 0
2 2
!" %& !"
Since dθ is of infinite simal size, sin $= andcos $ = 1. Also the
# # '
product of the two infinite simals dT and may be neglected when
compared to infinite simals of the first order. As a result, these two
infinite equation become
(!) = !*

!) = *!"
Eliminating dN yields
= (!"
Integrating this equation between all the points of contact that the belt
makes with the drum, and noting that T=*+ at θ=0 and T=β yields
./ 2
, = ( , !"
.0 - 3

45 = (6
Solving for -# , we obtain
-# = -7 8 92
-7 : -# ;= belt tensions; -7 opposes the direction of motion (or
impeding motion) of the belt measured relative to the surface,
while -# acts in the direction of the relative belt motion (or
impeding motion); because of the friction-# > -7 .
= coefficient of static or kinetic friction between the belt and the
surface contact.
β = angle of belt to surface contact, measured in radians.
e = 2,718…, base of the natural logarithm.

As a result, this equation is valid for flat belts passing over any curved
contacting surface.

9.1 V-Belt Friction

The friction developed by a v-belt can be developed in a similar fashion.

The relationship between tight side and slack side tension for a v-belt is:
&'()* ! ,
! = "#

Angle, α, must be expressed in radians.

10.0 Axle Friction
Axle friction is the friction between an axle and its journal bearing. A
journal bearing provides literal support to the rotating shaft. Frictional
resistance of fully lubricated bearings depends on clearances, ᴓspeed
with which the shaft rotating and viscosity of the lubricant. Partially
lubricated bearings and axles can be assumed to be in direct conduct
along the straight line. To reduce friction, lubrication is generally applied
between the axle and the bearing block.

Circle of radius rf is
Called Friction Circle
The frictional force will act normal to N and opposing the motion.
Resultant of frictional and normal force will act at an angle !from N.F is
the tangential force of friction from wheel against axle (axle friction)
As the shaft begins to turn in the direction shown, it will roll up the inner
surface of bearing until it slips at A. Shaft will remain in a more or less
fixed position during rotation. Torque M required to maintain rotation,
and the radial load L on the shaft will cause reaction R at the contact
point A. For vertical

Equilibrium, R must be equal to L but will not be collinear. R will be

tangent to a small circle of radius rf called the friction circle
∑MA =0
M = Lrf = Lr sin ᴓ
For a small coefficient of friction, ᴓ is small that sinᴓ is approximately
equal tanᴓ
M = μ Lr (since μ= tan ᴓ ) _ Use equilibrium equations to solve a
problem. Moment that must be applied to the shaft to overcome friction
for a dry or partially lubricated journal bearing
+ ↑ Σ Fy = 0; R –L=0, R=L

· Dr. G Saravana Kumar

· J.L Meriam and L.C Kraige Engineering Mechanics Statics Fifth
Edition (2002)
· Dansal R.K (2002)
· A text book of engineering
· Mechanics New Delhi.
· Laxmi Publication
· Bhavikatti
· R.C .Hibbeler 12th Edition
· B .Peerson Mechanics of solids (2013)