A recent three-dimensional (3-D) finite element (FE) investigation on self-loosening of bolted joints revealed that two major mechanisms were responsible for the second-stage (nut rotation) self-loosening of bolted joints. One of the mechanisms is the slip-stick contact of the thread surfaces under the combined contact pressure and reversed bending moment exerted from the reversed transverse loading. The current investigation is a detailed study of the slip-stick contact of the thread surfaces with models that mimic the bolt loading condition. The contact pressure and the reversed bending moment are obtained from an earlier simulation for an M12 bolt. The FE simulations indicate that, with the contact pressure on the thread surface of the bolt and nut, the alternating bending moment results in the gradual motion between the contact thread surfaces. A detailed look at the contact surfaces reveals that localized slip along the tangential direction occurs in part of the contact area and the accumulation of this local slip is responsible for the gradual relative motion between bolt and nut. The FE simulations also indicate that the amplitude of the bending moment greatly influences the relative displacement between the bolt and the nut. There exists a threshold below which local slip will not occur. Results from a two-dimensional (2-D) model are discussed and compared with those obtained from a 3-D model.

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