Computer simulation of the thermal deformation behavior of machine tools requires a priori knowledge of the correlation between the contact pressure distribution and the thermal contact resistance distribution along the structural joint. To establish this correlation experimentally, a method for generating different distributions of contact pressure has been devised in the present work. The method provides also a basic tool toward the satisfaction of the requirements of simulative wear testing. In this paper, the effect of the relative flexural rigidity of two solids in contact on the shape of the distribution of contact pressure is presented as a means for generating desired contact pressure distributions. The theoretical background of the concept is discussed considering two limiting cases: a rigid body on an elastic semi-infinite mass, and an elastic layer on a rigid base. Through a photoelastic analysis, the geometric parameters of contacting bodies, which allow us to generate the desired distributions, have been defined. The results of the analysis were verified by a two-dimensional, plane-stress finite element model. The results indicated that a finite plate, whose dimensions are not less than threefold the contact length can simulate a two-dimensional rigid base or a semi-infinite elastic mass. A change in the height-to-contact length ratio of the contacting beam from 0.5 to 2.5, causes a significant change in its elastic response from a flexural to a rigid body.

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