Tribological behavior of oil-lubricated laser textured steel surfaces in conformal flat and non-conformal contacts

A.Erdemir 2,
O.O.Ajayi 2,
I.Etsion 3

1 I. M. Frantsevich Institute for Problems of Materials Science of the NAS of Ukraine, Krzhizhanovsky str., 3, Kyiv, 03142, Ukraine
2 Argonne National Lab., Energy Systems Division, Argonne, IL, US
3 Technion-Israel Inst. of Technology, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Haifa, IL

Materials Performance and Characterization, 2017, Т.6, #2


Changing the surface texture of sliding surfaces is an effective way to manipulate friction and wear of lubricated surfaces. Having realized its potential, we have done very extensive studies on the effects of laser surface texturing (LST, which involves the creation of an array of microdimples on a surface) on friction and wear behavior of oil-lubricated steel surfaces in the early 2000s. In this paper, we reviewed some of our research accomplishments and assessed future directions of the laser texturing field in many diverse industrial applications. Our studies specifically addressed the impact of laser texturing on friction and wear of both the flat conformal and initial non-conformal point contact configurations using a pin-on-disk test rig under fully-flooded synthetic oil lubricants with different viscosities. Electrical resistance measurement between pin and LST disks was also used to determine the operating lubrication regimes in relation to friction. In conformal contact, we confirmed that LST could significantly expand the operating conditions for hydrodynamic lubrication to significantly much higher loads and slower speeds. In particular, with LST and higher viscosity oils, the low-friction full hydrodynamic regime was shifted to the far left in the Stribeck diagram. Overall, the beneficial effects of laser surface texturing were more pronounced at higher speeds and loads and with higher viscosity oil. LST was also observed to reduce the magnitude of friction coefficients in the boundary regime. For the non-conformal contact configuration, we determined that LST would produce more abrasive wear on the rubbing counterface compared to the untreated surfaces due to a reduction in lubricant fluid film thickness, as well as the highly uneven and rough nature of the textured surfaces. However, this higher initial wear rate has led to faster generation of a conformal contact, and thus transition from the high-friction boundary to lower friction mixed lubrication regime, resulting in a rapid reduction in the friction coefficient with increased ball wear. Higher density of LST, lower oil viscosity, and hardness of counterface steel surface facilitate an increase of the initial wear, which promotes friction reduction. This phenomenon can be beneficial if the initial accelerated wear on the counterface is acceptable in intended applications. This paper summarizes our experimental investigation of the effect of LST on friction properties and lubrication regime transitions in a unidirectional sliding contact.