Measuring contact area in a sliding human finger-pad contact

Skin Res Technol. 2018 Feb;24(1):31-44. doi: 10.1111/srt.12387. Epub 2017 Jun 1.


Background/purpose: The work outlined in this paper was aimed at achieving further understanding of skin frictional behaviour by investigating the contact area between human finger-pads and flat surfaces.

Methods: Both the static and the dynamic contact areas (in macro- and micro-scales) were measured using various techniques, including ink printing, optical coherence tomography (OCT) and Digital Image Correlation (DIC).

Results: In the studies of the static measurements using ink printing, the experimental results showed that the apparent and the real contact area increased with load following a piecewise linear correlation function for a finger-pad in contact with paper sheets. Comparisons indicated that the OCT method is a reliable and effective method to investigate the real contact area of a finger-pad and allow micro-scale analysis. The apparent contact area (from the DIC measurements) was found to reduce with time in the transition from the static phase to the dynamic phase while the real area of contact (from OCT) increased.

Conclusions: The results from this study enable the interaction between finger-pads and contact object surface to be better analysed, and hence improve the understanding of skin friction.

Keywords: DIC; OCT; contact area; ink printing method; skin tribology.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dermatoglyphics
  • Female
  • Fingers / diagnostic imaging
  • Fingers / physiology*
  • Friction / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Skin / diagnostic imaging
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Surface Properties
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence / methods
  • Touch / physiology
  • Weight-Bearing