Difference between Wear and Abrasion

Key Difference:  Wear is the loss of material from the surface of a material. This process is generally progressive in nature. Abrasion is one of the actions which can cause wear. It is caused by the mechanical process of rubbing the surface against some other material.

Wear and abrasion are often considered to be the same. However there is a subtle difference between them. Wear refers to the loss of material which takes place from the surface of a solid. This phenomenon is progressive in nature and is usually caused by mechanical reasons.  Wearing rakes place due to relative motion between surface of the material and the substance or substances making contact with that material.

In context to textile materials, wearing is considered as a fault factor. Wearing is one of the reasons through which an article loses its usefulness. Wearing is not as simple as it sounds, it tends to be a complex phenomenon which gets effected by parameters like – length of exposure, contact geometry, material composition and hardness, etc. The important causes of wearing are surface fatigue, adhesion, tribochemical reaction and abrasion.

In tribochecmical reaction, products of the reaction affect the tribological processes at the surface. In surface fatigue, cracks developed under the stressed surfaces due to alternating mechanical stresses. Adhesion wear occurs due to close association of surface materials of similar composition. Abrasion is one of the phenomenon which causes wearing. This is one of the common causes, and therefore wear and abrasion are often used interchangeably.

Abrasion refers to the loss of material which takes place due to rubbing of the material against some other surface. An example of abrasion can be sliding an object back and forth. It usually occurs when a hard surface is rubbed against a soft surface.  Abrasions may differ from each other due to many factors like type of abrasion, type of abradant, applied pressure, etc.

As abrasion is a type of wearing, it is often confused with it. However, it is important to mention that abrasion is one of the actions causing wear.

Comparison between Wear and Abrasion:





It refers to the fault which occurs at a solid surface due to the relative motion existing between the surface and the contacting substance.

It is one of the actions that cause wearing. It is caused by the mechanical process of rubbing the surface against some other material.


  • Abrasion
  • Adhesion
  • Tribochemical reactions
  • Surface fatigue
  • Plane
  • Flexible
  • Edge

Some Consequences

  • Surface fatigue – pitting and micro pitting, tool
  • Tribochemical reaction –fretting corrosion
  • Adhesive wear -  scuffling, scoring, pits

Grooves, dimensional changes, and shiny spots on textured tool surfaces


Abrasion is one of the actions causing tear

Abrasion is one among the many actions causing tear

Image Courtesy: ewp.rpi.edu, substech.com

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