The wear mechanism of rubber is complex, and the direct experimental observations of wear are limited. The understanding of the wear mechanism and its prevention are important aims and fields of investigation in the tire industry. The most straightforward way to quantify wear is a measurement of the mass loss after wear experiments. The different mass loss of different rubber materials is used to classify the wear performance of the materials. An additional way to obtain information about the different wear behavior of different compounds and the mechanism is to take a look of the worn surface of the wheels. After wear experiments with real tires on the street or small rubber wheels in laboratory, microstructures normal to the slip direction occur, the so called Schallamach waves. The kinematic analysis of these structures can lead to a deeper understanding of the wear mechanism. The surfaces of four compounds with a different wear performance are investigated in this paper with the aim of distinguishing them not just through the measured mass losses but also through an analysis of the surface and the extraction of a characteristic.
This characteristic is recognized as the lateral displacement of the surface structures. It is quantified using a new evaluation technique based on the particle image velocimetry (PIV) method. The lateral displacement is compound specific and is observed parallel to the lowering of the altitude due to mass loss. In addition, the observed microstructures are used to add a new aspect of local plasticization to the well-established wear mechanism theory.