A continuous measure of fingertip friction during precision grip

J Neurosci Methods. 2009 May 15;179(2):224-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2009.01.031. Epub 2009 Feb 7.


When humans manipulate an object, the minimal grip force (GF) required to avoid slipping depends on the frictional properties between the fingers and the object. As a consequence, fingertip skin friction plays a critical role during object manipulation. Here, the effects of the normal force and moisture content on the skin's static coefficient of friction (CF) for human fingertips were studied. Ten subjects were asked to pinch an object with a given normal force. Slippage of the object on the fingertips was generated for different ranges of normal force using a linear translation stage. The exerted forces and moisture of the fingertips were then measured, and the static coefficient of friction was calculated as the ratio between the tangential force and normal force at slippage. These results demonstrate that the effects of the normal force and moisture content on the CF exhibit a complex interaction. For a given moisture condition, the CF varies as a power function of the normal force; in contrast, for a given normal force, the CF is described by a "bell-shaped" function of moisture. A global expression of the CF as a function of the normal force and moisture content is derived, and a method is proposed for a continuous measure of the CF. This new method shall be of particular interest in investigating dexterous manipulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Body Water / physiology
  • Electrophysiology / methods*
  • Female
  • Fingers / physiology*
  • Friction / physiology*
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle Strength Dynamometer
  • Neurophysiology / methods*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Sweat / physiology
  • Young Adult