Friction Overview and Definition

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Definition of friction.

Friction is a force that resists relative motion between two surfaces in contact. Depending on the application, friction may be desirable or undesirable. Certain applications, such as tire traction on pavement and braking, or when feet are firmly planted to move a heavy object, rely on the beneficial effects of friction for their effectiveness. In other applications, such as operation of engines or equipment with bearings and gears, friction is undesirable because it causes wear and generates heat, which frequently lead to premature failure.

From a perspective of engineering, the energy expended in overcoming friction is dispersed as heat and is considered to be wasted because useful work is not accomplished. This waste heat is a major cause of excessive wear and premature failure of equipment. Two general cases of friction occur: sliding friction and rolling friction.

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