What is Tribology ?

Introduction

Tribology is the study of the interactions between surfaces in relative motion. It encompasses the study of friction, lubrication, wear, and surface engineering. Engineers use tribology to design machines that are efficient, durable, and reliable, and to improve the performance of materials by altering their surface properties. It is a critical field for many industries, including automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, and energy, as it helps to reduce friction, and wear, and increases the lifespan of components.

Tribology is the science and engineering of interacting surfaces in relative motion. It includes the study of friction, lubrication, and wear of materials.

Illustration illustrating the interaction between tribology and other sciences (Source – Research Gate)

Definition

Tribology is an interdisciplinary field that draws on many different areas of science and engineering, including mechanical engineering, materials science, chemistry, physics, and biology. It is a critical field for many industries, including automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, and energy.

Tribology also encompasses the study of surface engineering, which is the modification of surface properties of materials to enhance their performance. Surface engineering techniques include surface hardening, surface coating, and surface modification. Surface hardening is the process of increasing the hardness of a surface, surface coating is the process of applying a coating to a surface to protect it from wear or corrosion, and surface modification is the process of altering the surface properties of a material to improve its performance.

In summary, tribology is the science and engineering of interacting surfaces in relative motion. It includes the study of friction, lubrication, wear, and surface engineering. It is a critical field for many industries, including automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, and energy. Engineers use tribology to design machines that are efficient, durable, and reliable, and to predict the wear rate of different materials.

The frequency of ISO, IEC, and EN standards in each ICS group relevant to the tribology areas is depicted graphically (Source – Research Gate)

Areas of Tribology

Study of tribology (Source – ISPAT GURU)

Friction

One area of tribology that is particularly important is the study of friction. Friction is the force that opposes the relative motion of two surfaces in contact. It can be classified into two types: static friction and kinetic friction. Static friction is the force that opposes the initiation of motion between two surfaces in contact, while kinetic friction is the force that opposes the motion of two surfaces in contact. Engineers use tribology to design machines that reduce friction, which can increase efficiency and prolong the life of components.

Lubrication

Another area of tribology is the study of lubrication. Lubrication is the use of a lubricant, such as oil or grease, to reduce friction and wear between two surfaces in contact. Lubricants can also help to dissipate heat, remove debris, and prevent corrosion. Engineers use tribology to select the most appropriate lubricant for a given application and to design lubrication systems that deliver the lubricant to the right place at the right time. There are two types of lubrication: boundary lubrication and mixed lubrication. Boundary lubrication is the lubrication that occurs when the surfaces are separated by a thin film of lubricant, while mixed lubrication is the lubrication that occurs when the surfaces are in contact with each other.

Tribo system (Source – Anton Paar)

Wear

Wear is another important area of tribology. Wear is the gradual removal of material from a surface due to friction and/or corrosion. There are several types of wear, including abrasive wear, adhesive wear, and fatigue wear. Abrasive wear is caused by hard particles rubbing against a surface, adhesive wear is caused by two surfaces sticking together and sliding against each other, and fatigue wear is caused by repeated loading and unloading of a surface. Engineers use tribology to design surfaces and materials that are resistant to wear and to predict the wear rate of different materials.

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