Influence of the contact parameters and several graphite materials on the tribological behaviour of graphite/cooper two-disc electrical contacts

M. Kalin, D. Poljanec

Tribology International, 126 (2018) 192-205.


This paper reports on the performance and tribological mechanisms in a newly developed design for an electrical sliding contact in terms of sliding velocity, normal force and electrical current during 24-h experiments. Copper discs were run against hard-carbon graphite, electrographite and polymer-bonded graphite. The average wear rates of the copper discs against the three graphite materials were reduced to 10−8 and 10−7 mm3/Nm, and the graphite discs to 10−6 mm3/Nm, which is for 1 and 1–2 orders of magnitude less, than copper slip-rings and carbon brushes in conventional systems, respectively. The coefficient of friction was 0.2–0.4, depending on the conditions, which is comparable to the values of conventional electrical sliding contact. Tribofilms are generated in almost all contacts, and crucially determine the contact performance. The polymer-bonded-graphite/Cu formed the most compliant tribofilms that unify and decrease the local contact pressures and temperatures, and have the largest surface coverage that reduces the wear and contact resistance, which in turn reduces the contact instabilities and so the friction.

Keywords: Electrical contacts, Copper, Graphite, Friction, Wear, Electrical current


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