Contact force

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Definition

Contact force is the force exerted between two bodies through a surface of contact. This force has two components:

  • Normal force, which is the component in the direction perpendicular to the plane of contact (or the tangent plane to the point of contact). This opposes the tendency of the bodies to move into each other.
  • Friction, which is the component along the plane of contact (or the tangent plane to the point of contact). This opposes the tendency of the surfaces to slip against each other.

Related terminology

  • Ground reaction force is a term used for the contact force exerted by the ground (typically, a horizontal plane) on a body in contact with it.