I am searching for information on how finite element code (abaqus /ansys) could be used to model the contact stress behaviour between 2 bearing surfaces?

The key point is that there is an additional hard coating n both surfaces so as to reduce wear.

How would one model this additional hard layer?

Would this hard layer be represented by an additional layer of elements with a higher elastic modulus?

  • $\begingroup$ Look up 'conformal meshing' in ansys - If I recall correctly, you can set up separate zones in your mesh, with different properties, but share nodes at the interface between them. $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2017 at 10:19
  • $\begingroup$ thin layers might be represented by a layer of elements or rolled into the contact formulation, depending on what you are trying to get out of it. $\endgroup$
    – agentp
    Dec 18, 2017 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ Heat treated surfaces have the same modulus of elasticity, but higher strength. $\endgroup$ Dec 24, 2017 at 1:22
  • $\begingroup$ PS. ANSYS v18 has a surface coating object that can be applied in the geometry definition in the mechanical application. $\endgroup$ Dec 24, 2017 at 1:23
  • $\begingroup$ If heat treated surfaces have the same modulus of elasticity then its not clear to me how one would model the hardness of the coating. $\endgroup$ Dec 24, 2017 at 17:27

1 Answer 1


I would suggest a two step process:

1) Do a high resolution simulation (with four layers) of a small region to estimate the effective contact stiffness of the system.

2) Do a two surface simulation with the contact stiffness from step 1.

Doing a high resolution simulation of the whole system will be computationally expensive, and not suggested unless you have access to parallel computing.

The reason is that the thin layer will have to be discretized using at least three elements through the thickness; leading to millions (if not billions) of elements for the entire assembly.


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