A theory of rubbing wear found useful in other fields predicts that the volume of stylus (or record) material worn away is proportional to the area of -real- contact between the stylus and the groove wall. In order to evaluate the influence of system parameters on the real-contact area, the elastic-plastic regime prevailing under the stylus is first analyzed in detail. The enhancement of the effective yield strength of record materials by the so-called size effect is found to have a dominant influence on the stylus-groove contact. Application of these results to the wear problem leads to the prediction that stylus life could be extended by as much as one or two orders of magnitude if the conventional dynamic loading of the stylus contact were lowered enough to insure that no plastic yielding could ever occur even at the peak acceleration demand for either vertical or lateral motion. Avoidance of plastic yielding is also shown to remove an important component of surface noise originating in the microscale intermittency of plastic flow.
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