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Biomed Eng Online. 2010 Jun 15;9:24. doi: 10.1186/1475-925X-9-24.

A rolling-gliding wear simulator for the investigation of tribological material pairings for application in total knee arthroplasty.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic, Laboratory of Biomaterials and Biomechanics, Medical School Hannover, Germany.



Material wear testing is an important technique in the development and evaluation of materials for use in implant for total knee arthroplasty. Since a knee joint induces a complex rolling-gliding movement, standardised material wear testing devices such as Pin-on-Disc or Ring-on-Disc testers are suitable to only a limited extent because they generate pure gliding motion only.


A rolling-gliding wear simulator was thus designed, constructed and implemented, which simulates and reproduces the rolling-gliding movement and loading of the knee joint on specimens of simplified geometry. The technical concept was to run a base-plate, representing the tibia plateau, against a pivoted cylindrical counter-body, representing one femur condyle under an axial load. A rolling movement occurs as a result of the friction and pure gliding is induced by limiting the rotation of the cylindrical counter-body. The set up also enables simplified specimens handling and removal for gravimetrical wear measurements. Long-term wear tests and gravimetrical wear measurements were carried out on the well known material pairings: cobalt chrome-polyethylene, ceramic-polyethylene and ceramic-ceramic, over three million motion cycles to allow material comparisons to be made.


The observed differences in wear rates between cobalt-chrome on polyethylene and ceramic on polyethylene pairings were similar to the differences of published data for existing material-pairings. Test results on ceramic-ceramic pairings of different frontal-plane geometry and surface roughness displayed low wear rates and no fracture failures.


The presented set up is able to simulate the rolling-gliding movement of the knee joint, is easy to use, and requires a minimum of user intervention or monitoring. It is suitable for long-term testing, and therefore a useful tool for the investigation of new and promising materials which are of interest for application in knee joint replacement implants.

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