Experimental Tribology of Human Skin

  • Marc A. MasenEmail author
  • Noor Veijgen
  • Michel Klaassen
Part of the Studies in Mechanobiology, Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials book series (SMTEB, volume 22)


The interaction behavior of the human skin is of relevance for the functional performance of a wide range of products and, as a result, the topic is widely studied in both industry and academia. However, the key underlying mechanisms determining the interaction behavior of skin are at present not well understood.

Skin is a living material and thus will respond and may adapt to mechanical interaction, for instance by producing sweat, releasing biomarkers and even developing a blister or a wound. In addition, the properties of skin strongly depend on personal traits and characteristics. This makes predictive modelling of the interaction behaviour of skin challenging, and therefore there is a continued need for experimental investigations.

In literature a large range of experimentally obtained friction values have been reported. These have been measured using a wide variety of tribometers. When commencing tribological testing it is essential to ensure that the investigations are performed using the appropriate tribo-system, meaning that contact conditions such as pressures, sliding velocities and environmental conditions are representative for the final application, as any of these factors will have a significant effect on the obtained tribological result. Additionally, many studies use the volar forearm as measurement site; whilst this area provides ease of measurement, it may not always be highly representative of the actual skin site of interest.

Because of the complex nature of skin interactions, much of the underlying fundamental physical mechanisms remain to be discovered. Focused in-depth experimental investigations will be key to achieving a better understanding in skin tribology.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tribology Group, Department of Mechanical EngineeringImperialCollege LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Laboratory for Surface Technology and TribologyUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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