Simultaneous measurement of friction and wear in hip simulators

Hani Haider, Joel N. Weisenburger, Kevin L. Garvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We propose and have evaluated a method to measure hip friction during wear testing on a popular multi-station hip simulator. A 6-degree-of-freedom load cell underneath the specimen sensed forces and torques during implant wear testing of simulated walking. This included internal-external and adduction-abduction rotations which are often neglected during friction testing on pendulum-type machines. Robust mathematical analysis and data processing provided friction estimates in three simultaneous orthogonal rotations, over extended multi-million cycle wear tests. We tested various bearing couples including metal-on-plastic, ceramic-on-plastic, and metal-on-metal material couples. In one test series, new and intentionally scratched CoCrMo 40-mm-diameter femoral heads were tested against conventional ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene, highly cross-linked, and highly cross-linked with Vitamin E versions. The scratching significantly increased friction and doubled the wear of all groups. Before scratching, friction levels for the aforementioned plastic groups were 0.056 ± 0.0060, 0.062 ± 0.0080, and 0.070 ± 0.0045, respectively, but after scratching increased to 0.088 ± 0.018, 0.076 ± 0.0066, and 0.082 ± 0.0049, respectively, all statistically significant increases (p = 0.00059, 0.00005, 0.0115, respectively). In another test series of 44-mm femoral head diameter hips, metal-on-plastic hips with conventional ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene showed the lowest friction at 0.045 ± 0.0085, followed by highly cross-linked with 0.046 ± 0.0035 (not significantly different). In a ceramic-on-plastic design with conventional ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene, higher friction 0.079 ± 0.0070 was measured likely due to that ceramic surface being rougher than usual. Metal-on-metal hips were compared without and with a TiN coating, resulting in 0.049 ± 0.014 and 0.097 ± 0.020 friction factors, respectively (statistically significant, p < 0.001), and the coating wore away on all coated hips eventually. Higher friction mostly correlated with higher wear or damage to femoral heads or implant coatings, except for the highly cross-linked wear resistant ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene which had slightly higher friction, confirming the same finding in other independent studies. This type of friction measurements can help screen for clamping and elevated wear of metal-on-metal and resurfacing total hip replacements, surgical malpositioning, and abraded and otherwise damaged surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-388
Number of pages16
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2016


  • Friction
  • friction measurement or testing
  • hip biomechanics
  • hip simulators
  • tribology
  • wear analysis or testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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