Publication: Assessment of the applicability of the Hertzian contact theory to edge-loaded prosthetic hip bearings.

Sanders, A. P. and R. M. Brannon (2011). “Assessment of the applicability of the Hertzian contact theory to edge-loaded prosthetic hip bearings.” Journal of Biomechanics 44(16): 2802-2808.


The components of prosthetic hip bearings may experience in-vivo subluxation and edge loading on the acetabular socket as a result of joint laxity, causing abnormally high, damaging contact stresses. In this research, edge-loaded contact of prosthetic hips is examined analytically and experimentally in the most commonly used categories of material pairs. In edge-loaded ceramic-on-ceramic hips, the Hertzian contact theory yields accurate (conservatively, <10% error) predictions of the contact dimensions. Moreover, the Hertzian theory successfully captures slope and curvature trends in the dependence of contact patch geometry on the applied load. In an edge-loaded ceramic-on-metal pair, a similar degree of accuracy is observed in the contact patch length; however, the contact width is less accurately predicted due to the onset of subsurface plasticity, which is predicted for loads >400N. The Hertzian contact theory is shown to be ill-suited to edge-loaded ceramic-on-polyethylene pairs due to polyethylene’s nonlinear material behavior. This work elucidates the methods and the accuracy of applying classical contact theory to edge-loaded hip bearings. The results help to define the applicability of the Hertzian theory to the design of new components and materials to better resist severe edge loading contact stresses.

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Publication: Experimental Assessment of Unvalidated Assumptions in Classical Plasticity Theory

Abstract: This report investigates the validity of several key assumptions in classical plasticity theory regarding material response to changes in the loading direction. Three metals, two rock types, and one ceramic were subjected to non-standard loading directions, and the resulting strain response increments were displayed in Gudehus diagrams to illustrate the approximation error of classical plasticity theories. A rigorous mathematical framework for fitting classical theories to the data, thus quantifying the error, is provided. Further data analysis techniques are presented that allow testing for the effect of changes in loading direction without having to use a new sample and for inferring the yield normal and flow directions without having to measure the yield surface. Though the data are inconclusive, there is indication that classical, incrementally linear, plasticity theory may be inadequate over a certain range of loading directions. This range of loading directions also coincides with loading directions that are known to produce a physically inadmissible instability for any nonassociative plasticity model.

You may download the full report here.