Compared with other engineering or physical science disciplines, tribology could very well be the most interdisciplinary subject known. Based on the Greek root “tribos”, meaning to rub, tribology is the field of, or study of things which rub, often referred to as the study of friction, lubrication and wear. From automobile engines to wind turbines to cosmetics to prosthetic hip implants to seals to brakes, just about everything which comes in contact with another object has some tribological considerations in its design, manufacture and use. As such, the ideal tribologist would have studied Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and even Biology. Unfortunately, many a fine engineer or researcher in one particular field does not have the complementary education or experience needed to solve tribological problems once they occur, or prevent them from occurring in the early design stages. How often has the choice of materials or lubricants based on one design criterion, such as corrosion resistance, resulted in a failed mechanism or function?
This seminar, the first in a series of Tribology Basics, will be an introduction aimed at providing mechanical engineers and other researchers in any of the above-mentioned fields an overview of important tribological considerations (such as surface roughness, material compatibility, contact stresses, etc.) required for designing or manufacturing products, or designing of tribology experiments. It will conclude with an overview of how tribological evaluation and testing under the proper conditions can guide them to the correct materials choice, help them predict the lifetime of a component or system, choose the correct lubricant or coating for a given application, or to solve a tribological issue which has arisen in the subsequent release of a product.
Dr. Steve Shaffer, Ph.D., President Shaffer Tribology Consulting