P15662: Friction Tester Integration

Publications & Presentations

Table of Contents

Final Documents


Review Date Arm Base
Problem Definition 9-11-2014 Arm Problem Definition Base Problem Definition
Systems Review 9-30-2014 Arm Systems Base Systems
Subsystem Design Review 10-28-2014 N/A Base Subsystem Design
Detailed Subsystem Design Review 11-20-2014 Arm Detailed Subsystem Design Base Detailed Subsystem Design
Detailed Design Review 12-4-2014 Arm Detailed Design Base Detailed Design


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In the world today, there are many options for a reciprocating friction tester. These devices are designed and built by professionals and typically cost thousands of dollars. During the 2014-2015 academic year, a team of ten students from Rochester Institute of Technology tackled the challenge of designing and building a low-cost friction tester as part of a Multidisciplinary Senior Design course. The friction tester has many requirements to be met including a maximum size of one foot by two feet, the ability to sit on a table, and have a project cost less than $2500. It must also be able to perform a test for up to twenty-four hours. Additionally, the tester must be able to accommodate a normal force of up to twenty Newtons, within an accuracy of two percent.

As the project was composed of two main subsystems, the team was divided into two smaller teams: one focusing on the armature of the tester, while the other focused on designing the reciprocating base. Each group consisted of two mechanical engineers, two electrical engineers, and one industrial engineer.

The armature is balanced using a pin as the fulcrum and a weight threaded onto a rod to counterbalance the system. The weight is adjustable which allows for obtaining a balanced system for any length. Additionally, this counterbalance system gives the tester zero normal force prior to testing. The only force applied is that from the precise weights ranging in size from half a Newton to twenty Newtons. The armature portion of the tester is to flex as the specimen moves back and forth on the plate. Where the maximum deflection in the beam occurs, a set of strain gauges is placed. The strain gauges are mounted using a Wheatstone Bridge configuration. This configuration amplifies the strain. The signal is sent to a LabView program which then outputs the friction value. The LabView program also dictates at what rate the specimen will be reciprocating. Instead of using a traditional motor to create a reciprocating motion, a voice coil is used. The voice coil allows for more precise control over the motion and takes up less room than a traditional reciprocating motor. A closed-loop system is achieved using an encoder to provide feedback to the system controller. This promises results that are both accurate and repeatable with each test iteration. The specimen holder sits on a linear guide, where the holder slides along a rail as the voice coil outputs a specific frequency.

Technical Paper Draft

This team's paper is being submitted to an ASME conference. Please contact Dr. Patricia Iglesias Victoria (pxieme@rit.edu) with any questions.

User Manual

User Manual PDF

User Manual docx

SGCal File

MSD I Armature Subsystems Base Subsystems MSD II


Project Review

Arm Systems Design

Base Systems Design



Force Weights



Specimen Holder

Linear Guide

Voice Coil & Motion Controller

Encoder & Power Supply

Build, Test, Document

Publications & Presentations

Planning & Execution

Imagine Information