Biotribology of joint replacements

Biotribology of artificial human joints is a widespread research area devoted to investigate the tribology performance of implants, such as lubrication conditions and wear, that are strictly related to implants performance and success.

The research group has been focused on the development of numerical (both analytical and finite-element models) wear models of hip and shoulder joint implants to predict wear volume and maps.

The numerical investigations were supported by experimental activity, such as in vitro wear test in joint simulators, mainly performed by collaboration partners at AC2T research centre and Newcastle University for hip and shoulder implants, respectively.

The final goal of this research activity is the comprehension of the wear mechanisms of joint replacements and the development and validation of numerical wear models which could help to improve implant design that guarantee longer implant life.

An example of the investigated human joint implants: a ceramic on plastic hip replacement (a). Typical results of wear investigations: map of contact pressure (b) and slide tracks of some cup contact points (c); numerical/experimental wear map of the plastic cup.

Research group
Enrico Ciulli, Francesca Di Puccio, Lorenza Mattei

External collaborations:

AC2T research GmbH(
School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering,
Newcastle University
Permedica Orthopaedics Srl


PRA 2015 (PRA_2015_0070): Indagine teorico-sperimentale e modellazione numerica di fenomeni legati ad attrito e usura

Main publications:

  • Mattei L, Di Puccio F, Ciulli E, Pauschitz A. Experimental investigation on wear map evolution of ceramic-on-UHMWPE hip prosthesis. Tribol Int. 2020;143:106068.
  • Curreli C, Di Puccio F, Mattei L. Application of the finite element submodeling technique in a single point contact and wear problem. International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering. 2018;116:708-22.
  • Mattei L, Di Puccio F, Joyce TJ, Ciulli E. Numerical and experimental investigations for the evaluation of the wear coefficient of reverse total shoulder prostheses. J Mech Behav Biomed Mater. 2016;55:53-66.
  • Di Puccio F, Mattei L. A novel approach to the estimation and application of the wear coefficient of metal-on-metal hip implants. Tribol Int. 2015;83:69-76.
  • Mattei L, Di Puccio F, Ciulli E. A comparative study on wear laws for soft-on-hard hip implants using a mathematical wear model. Tribol Int. 2013;63:66-77.
  • Mattei L, Di Puccio F, Piccigallo B, Ciulli E. Lubrication and wear modelling of artificial hip joints: a review. Tribol Int. 2011;44:532–49.