This paper discusses the temperature distribution and the stress state in the vicinity of a near-surface rectangular cavity. They occur when the solid is subjected to the Coulomb frictional loading of an asperity moving at moderately high speed. The finite difference method is employed to calculate both the temperature and stress fields. The energy balance method is applied at the corners of the rectangular cavity to resolve the problem of singularities in the temperature field there. The stress singularity at each corner is represented by a special element that is introduced representing the behavior of the known stress singularity at the corner and its surrounding vicinity. Results show that the thermal stress effect dominates the stress field and eventually leads to failure. When a defect, such as a cavity, exists, the stress state that determines the failure phenomenon is more severe and can be quantified depending on the location of the cavity. These results were determined through a numerical computation based on the material properties of Stellite III. However, the parametric effect of material variations including changes in both thermal and mechanical properties were also considered. The study of the cavity location also established the existence of a critical cavity location. This location is defined by the critical ligament thickness (thickness between the wear surface and the top edge of the cavity), at which the cavity-influenced thermal tensile stress reaches a maximum. This thickness is important to designers when cavities at coating/substrate interface are either unavoidable or are too expensive to control in fabrication.

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