Delaying the onset of dynamic wetting failure through meniscus confinement

Eric Vandre, Marcio S. Carvalho, Satish Kumar

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45 Scopus citations


Dynamic wetting is crucial to processes where liquid displaces another fluid along a solid surface, such as the deposition of a coating liquid onto a moving substrate. Numerous studies report the failure of dynamic wetting past some critical process speed. However, the hydrodynamic factors that influence the transition to wetting failure remain poorly understood from an empirical and theoretical perspective. The objective of this investigation is to determine the effect of meniscus confinement on the onset of dynamic wetting failure. A novel experimental system is designed to simultaneously view confined and unconfined wetting systems as they approach wetting failure. The experimental apparatus consists of a scraped steel roll that rotates into a bath of glycerol. Confinement is imposed via a gap formed between a coating die and the roll surface. Flow visualization is used to record the critical roll speed at which wetting failure occurs. Comparison of the confined and unconfined data shows a clear increase in the relative critical speed as the meniscus becomes more confined. A hydrodynamic model for wetting failure is developed and analysed with (i) lubrication theory and (ii) a two-dimensional finite-element method (FEM). Both approaches do a remarkable job of matching the observed confinement trend, but only the two-dimensional model yields accurate estimates of the absolute values of the critical speeds due to the highly two-dimensional nature of the stress field in the displacing liquid. The overall success of the hydrodynamic model suggests a wetting failure mechanism primarily related to viscous bending of the meniscus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)496-520
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Sep 25 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Industrial Partnership for Research in Interfacial and Materials Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Acknowledgment is made to the Donors of the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund for partial support of this research. We thank W. J. Suszynski for his contributions to the experimental design and construction, and also M. L. Pekurovsky and R. C. Moore for their participation in many insightful discussions.


  • coating
  • computational methods
  • contact lines


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