Contacts are very important in machine elements and finite element analyses. You need to define contacts in finite element methods to obtain accurate results. So, you need to know the difference between conformal and non-conformal contacts in mechanical design. Here, you can find information about the difference between conformal and non-conformal contacts.

Check: Machine Elements Textbooks For Mechanical Engineers

Difference between Conformal and Non-conformal Contacts

The conformal and non-conformal contacts.
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In machine design, contacts are very important. Mechanical elements transfer the load through contacts between each other. These contact types can be one of these two different contacts.

What is Conformal Contact?

Conformal contact is the type of contact where the contact area is wide. For example, the type of contact in journal bearings is conformal contact. The contact area between the sleeve and the journal is very wide. The total load carrying area of the journal bearings is high because of the conformal contact.

What is the Non-conformal Contact?

Unlike conformal contacts, the contact area is very small in this type of contact. So the load is transferred or carried by a very narrow area. Stresses are very high in these areas. The most important example is the roller bearings. In the roller bearings, the contact area between the rollers and the outer rings is very narrow.

Cam-Follower Mechanisms

For example, in the cam mechanisms, the contact area between the cam roller and the follower elements is also very narrow. Because of it, the load is transmitted through a very narrow contact area. So, cam mechanisms are another important example of non-conformal contacts.

Gear Teeth Mates

For instance, the contact between the gear teeth mates is an important example of non-conformal contact. There is a line of contact between the gear teeth for the transmission of the power between them. Designers make the gear stress calculations according to this non-conformal contact phenomenon in gear teeth mates.


So, these are the general explanations of conformal and non-conformal contacts in machine elements. Also, it is a very important subject in tribology. For lubrication and other things, contact types are very important.

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