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Innovative NanoTribology Processes Aim To Eliminate Toxic Coatings

by Editor1 last modified March 27, 2008 - 12:47

An innovative nano-based tribology solution from scientists at Friction Control Solutions Inc. (Farmington Hills, Mich.) has been awarded a Technology Innovation Award from Frost & Sullivan. FriCSo’s Surface Engineering Treatment (SET) replaces coatings with a “polymer lapping process” -- an innovative mechanical process to reduce the friction between moving parts

Innovative NanoTribology Processes Aim To Eliminate Toxic Coatings

"FriCSo's innovative device could potentially replace existing non-environment friendly coatings in the field of automotive coatings," said S. Sumithra, a Frost and Sullivan research analyst.

FriCSo was founded in 2003 by Dr. Boris Shamshidov and Dr. Alexander Ignatovsky, two tribology scientists, and has received $7.5 million in private funding. Prior to founding FriCSo, Dr. Ignatovsky and Dr. Shamshidov served as the tribological laboratory of the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology.

FriCSo's proprietary two-stage Surface Engineering Treatment (SET) process combines a surface texturing technique (vibro-grooving) and its own developed polymer lapping process, based on nano-mechanics. The resulting parts perform well under extreme tribological conditions such as boundary and mixed lubrication regimes.

In vibro-grooving, the grooves created by the special texturing process serve as lubricant reservoirs while funneling out metal debris created during sliding friction.

The polymer lapping results in newly formed surface characteristics. The achieved surface properties include a durable lubricant layer between the moving surfaces. The impact on the surface includes:
1. Material property (surface hardness up to 1,100 Hv)
2. Interface layer properties (organic nanometric layer formed and chemically bonded into the surface)
3. Improved surface topography (from Ra 0.4 micron Ra 0.02 micron) in a single
4. Improved Rz amplitude
5. Improved Bearing Area Curve (BAC)
Frost and Sullivan noted 3 top benefits of SET: (a) increases in the surface hardness of the metal, (b) improvements in surface topography, and (c) the formation of a protective nano-layer (oil-retaining) that is chemically bonded to the metal surface

"Metal parts treated with SET enjoy high wear resistance and improved energy efficiency in the engines,” said Amir Weisberg, CEO of FriCSo.” “SET is cost effective compared to using exotic metals (such as bronze) for metal-pairs design, DLC and other coatings and bushings.” The technology does not produce any toxic waste and complies with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restrictions, he added.

How it Works - Inside Frisco’s SET Polymer Lapping Process
FriCSo’s SET polymer lapping process influences the surface of the metal by improving the surface characteristics. A conventional lapping process makes use of a metal tool such as cast iron whereas FriCSo's lapping process uses a uniquely designed patented polymer device.

SET’s surface texturing process involves introducing recesses onto the surface of the metal. These recesses can be either grooves done by plastic deformation or laser dimples. Recesses in the surface of the metal act as oil batteries by retaining oil and making it available to the surface in periods of insufficient oil supply. This provides the necessary lubrication among the mechanical parts of the vehicle in oil starvation conditions like start of an engine. These recesses also funnel the metal debris that is created during sliding friction.

During the lapping process, small torn out fragments from the polymeric lapping device with reactive polar groups abrade the oxide layer, thus stimulating a mechano-chemical reaction between the polymeric fragments.

The outcome of this process is a unique protective/metallic interface, which covers the surface of the metal. The protective nanolayer is bonded to the metal substrate by strong ionic forces during the lapping process. The formation of these strong chemical bonds aids the adhesion between the
polymeric molecules and the metal surface.

Various tests show the co-efficient of friction achieved in the SET process is much lower than the conventional process and the hardness of the metallic nanolayer increases near the surface as against the results achieved in a conventional process.

The oil film that is formed on the protective monolayer provides better lubrication with its smaller coefficient of friction. This technology meets the friction reduction needs in automotive cylinders, liners, piston pins, rocker shafts, camshafts, parts of diesel fuel injectors, and additional parts of hydraulic systems.