TRIBOLOGY

January 19, 2011


TRIBOLOGY

I ask our five year old grandson if he could give me the meaning of the word “tribology”.  He thought for a moment then said the following:

“OK Bob, (he calls me Bob) we’ve been studying Indians in school this year and triology (his word) is how a bunch of Indians live in teepees, around a campfire to cook and stay warm in the winter.  That’s trilogy!  What do you think?”

Not too shabby for pre-“K”.  Actually, tribology is defined as, “a study that deals with the design, friction, wear and lubrication of interacting surfaces in relative motion (as in bearings or gears).”  

As stated by the definition, tribology involves the study of three subject areas:  1.) Friction, 2.) Wear and 3.) Lubrication.  The study is interdisciplinary and involves very complex mechanical mechanisms including the weight of the rolling or sliding members, surface roughness of the members, profile of the surfaces, any dirt, grit, etc. that may interfere with movement and several others.  It has been estimated that six percent (6%) of our GNP is wasted and this waste results from friction and unnecessary wear of interacting parts.  I know this is very difficult to believe but my sources are current and reputable.   Even with this being the case, the average four year curriculum for mechanical engineering students involves only two (2) hours devoted to study and understanding friction and wear.  To make bad matters worse, most references on the subject are greatly outdated and provide sketchy information at best.  This is certainly true for more recent polymers and material composites.  The work just has not been done.

Let us very quickly look at the three components relative to tribology.  In this fashion, we will obtain a better understanding of the entire field of study.

Friction is a force that resists the sliding or rolling of one solid object over another.  Sometimes friction is very desirable; i.e. walking, driving a car on city streets, etc.  The negative effects become obvious when we consider we lose approximately twenty percent (20%) of an automobile engine’s power due to friction.  A great number of machinery failures result solely from friction and wear.

Wear is the removal of material from a solid surface as a result of mechanical action exerted by one solid on another.  There are four basic types of wear: 1.) Adhesive, 2.) Abrasive, 3.) Corrosive and 4.) Surface-fatigue.  Wear physically removes material from the surfaces of the interacting member with the harder material wearing the softer material.

Lubrication is the introduction of a lubricant between interacting solid surfaces to mitigate wear and friction.  The need for this dates back at least four thousand years.  The ancient Egyptians understood friction and wear and used animal fats as a lubricant.  There are three classifications for lubricants: 1.) Fluid film, 2.) Boundary and 3.) Solid.  It is fascinating to me that our body produces lubrication in a continuous fashion.  Our joints would not survive without this liquid lubrication and without this lubrication we would have a painful time in trying to bend, stretch, etc.  You get the picture.

As you can see, this is a fascinating field of study but a very complex subject to be studied.  If you are interested, I would recommend you taking a look at “The Journal of Tribology”.  It is found in the ASME digital library and will provide the latest information and data relative to university research and corporate activity.   I am in the process of completing a “white paper” for PDHonline that will provide much more information and basic grounding for the three areas of study we have just mentioned.  If interested, please log on and take a look.

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39 Responses to “TRIBOLOGY”


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    • cielotech Says:

      Hello Jackie–Thank you so much for your kind comments. I certainly appreciate you taking the time to read my posting and hope they provide “value-added”. Take care. Bob

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    • cielotech Says:

      Hello Temp–The template for my posts are taken from Word Press. It’s a “freeby” also. I chose the background color and the font colors and style. The template is theirs. Many thanks for taking a look and commenting.

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    • cielotech Says:

      Hello Major. Tribology is one of my favorite subjects and a good post for me. I have received very favorable comments. Many thanks for taking a look and taking the time to send me your note.

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    • cielotech Says:

      Hello Whole Life–Thank you for your kind comments. Tribology is a fascinating subject and one that has great significance in manufacturing. Energy lost due to friction and wear is about 6% on a global basis. Millions of dollars are spent each year as a result of friction and worn parts due to friction. Many thanks for taking a look.

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    • cielotech Says:

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  9. I read and enjoyed it.

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    • cielotech Says:

      Hello Henrik, Tribology is a very new word to describe a very old technology. Friction, wear and lubrication have been around a long time as far as subjects for investigation. Thank you for taking a look. Bob

      Like


  10. I have to convey my respect for your kindness for all those that call for guidance on this one field.

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    • cielotech Says:

      Tribology is a fascinating field of engineering and one that’s as old as the hill. New name–old technology but fun to read about. Thank you for taking a look.

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  11. Good post! We are linking to this great content on our website. Keep up the good writing.

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    • cielotech Says:

      Hello Milly. Tribology is a fascinating subject and one that’s quite complex if you “drill down” to the details. I certainly am happy you enjoyed the post and do hope you will return. Take care.

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    • cielotech Says:

      Tribology; i.e 1.) friction, 2.) wear, 3.) lubrication and 4.) adhesion are fascinating subjects to me but represent data that not too many can identify with. I’m certainly happy you enjoyed the experience and do hope you come again.

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  13. It’s rare knowledgeable people for this subject, but you sound like there’s far more you’re discussing! Thanks

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    • cielotech Says:

      Hello Shortener–Tribology is one subject I follow quite closely. I will have other posts relative to this subject as time goes by. Thank you so much for your comments.

      Like

  14. forum Says:

    This blog helped me open my mind.

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    • cielotech Says:

      Hello Forum, Certainly happy you enjoyed this posting. Tribology ( Friction, Wear, Lubrication and Adhesion ) is a fascinating subject. A little deep for a blog but none the less, a fascinating subject. Please come again.

      Like

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    • cielotech Says:

      Hello Nikita–Tribology is truly a fascinating technology. Friction, wear, lubrication and adhesion should be “standard” fair in every classroom. Take care and many thanks for the kind words.

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    • cielotech Says:

      Side effects–I can promise you that this one is mine and all mine. It’s taken from a training module I have written for practicing engineers, which I am one. All mine. Thanks for taking a look. B.

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