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L Zsidai, P Samyn, K Vercammen, K Van Acker, M Kozma, G Kalacska, P De Baets

Friction and thermal effects of engineering plastics sliding against steel and DLN-coated counterfaces

Tribology Letters 17 (2004) 269-288

Polymers are increasingly used in tribological applications, because of their self-lubricating ability, corrosion resistance and chemical compatibility. However, their performance depends strongly on the parameters of the total tribological system. Not only polymer characteristics, but also counterface properties become important because of their influence on friction and wear, on surface energy and on the thermal conductivity of the total system. Applying a Diamond-Like Nanocomposite (DLN) coating on a steel counterface can improve the tribological behaviour of the sliding couple under certain conditions. In the case of metal sliding against DLN, the high hardness and the wear resistance of the coating is advantageous for better tribological properties. However, for polymers sliding against DLN, the lower thermal conductivity of the DLN coating compared with a steel mating surface dominates friction and wear. In case of polyamides this results in worse tribological performance in contact with the DLN coating, because of polymer melting. In the case of more rigid polymers, such as, e.g., POM-H and PETP, lower coefficients of friction lead to lower frictional heat generation. In these cases, the thermal characteristics of the counterface are less important and the lower surface energy of the DLN coating is favourable for decreased adhesion between the polymer and the coating and consequently better tribological properties.

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