The complete stress field generated beneath an arbitrarily profiled axisymmetric indentor is found, both for normal indentation, and sliding. It is shown that a shallower profile than that of a sphere, i.e., one having a larger radius of curvature at the point of first contact, associated with a “flatter” pressure distribution, gives rise to a milder stress state, so that a heavier load may be sustained over a given contact disk without yielding.

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