The dynamic friction characteristics of a reciprocating friction drive system are investigated under conditions of dry contact using 0·45% carbon steel pair. Three friction modes are found during the operation, i.e. stick-slip, sticking and a transition region. The critical operating conditions in classifying these three modes are examined under various driver speeds, normal loads and spring constants. The critical values of driver speed and normal load increase with increasing spring constant. Generally, in the friction drive system the disappearance of the stick-slip results in smooth rolling. It is also found that the slope at the first period of slip on the traction force-relative slip velocity curve would have a transition from negative to positive value when the friction mode of stick-slip changes into sticking. Moreover, results show that the sticking mode gives the best positioning accuracy with the least wear on the contact surfaces. In addition, a transition from severe wear to mild wear is found when the friction mode is transferred from stick-slip to sticking only.
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