Tribology of Carbon Based Coatings for Machine Element Applications
Abstract: Demands on lower fuel consumption, reduced pollution, increased operating times, etc. force the automotive industry to constantly improve the performance of critical machine elements. In this development various carbon based coatings have proven very promising, mainly because of their low friction and high wear resistance in dry sliding contacts. The contact conditions can be very different in various machine element applications, e.g. both rolling and sliding contacts. Additionally, most contacts are usually lubricated. Hence, other properties of the coating may be required in order to obtain low friction and wear, as for instance a beneficial running-in ability. In lubricated contacts the very high wear resistance of carbon coatings can cause fatigue damage resulting in delamination of the coating, especially when deposited on rough substrates. In rolling contacts the fatigue damage can be reduced simply by using smoother surfaces, but the thickness of both the coating and the interlayer also has a strong influence on fatigue damage.In lubricated sliding contact tests it was found that the running-in ability could be improved by modifying the coating and/or by using an appropriate surface preparation prior to coating deposition. An increased Cr-content in the top-layer of the carbon coating reduced the friction due to the formation of a stable tribo-layer on the uncoated counter body. An even further reduced friction could be obtained by employing a fine wet-blasting of the substrate giving sharp surface asperities. The friction reduction is thought to be a result of a transition towards a higher degree of full film lubrication, due to a very fine smoothening process of both the coating and the counter body during the running-in process.
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