The Influence of DLC Coating on EHL Friction Coefficient

Research paper by M. Björling, P. Isaksson, P. Marklund, R. Larsson

Indexed on: 29 May '12Published on: 29 May '12Published in: Tribology Letters


High hardness, high elastic modulus, low friction characteristics, high wear and corrosion resistance, chemical inertness, and thermal stability are factors that make diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings the subject of many studies. For the same reasons they also seem suitable for use in, amongst others, machine components and cutting tools. While most studies in the literature focus on the influence of coatings on wear and friction in boundary lubrication and pure sliding contacts, few studies can be found concerning rolling and sliding elastohydrodynamic lubrication (EHL) friction, especially in the mixed and full film regime. In this article tests are carried out in a Wedeven Associates Machine tribotester where an uncoated ball and disc pair is compared to the case of coated ball against uncoated disc, coated disc against uncoated ball, and coated disc against coated ball. The tests are conducted at two different temperatures and over a broad range of slide-to-roll ratios and entrainment speeds. The results are presented as friction maps as introduced in previous work (Björling et al. in J Eng Tribol 225(7):671, 2011). Furthermore a numerical simulation model is developed to investigate if there is a possibility that the hard, thin DLC coating is affecting the friction coefficient in an EHL contact due to thermal effects caused by the different thermal properties of the coating compared to the substrate. The experimental results show a reduction in friction coefficient in the full film regime when DLC-coated surfaces are used. The biggest reduction is found when both surfaces are coated, followed by the case when either ball or disc is coated. The thermal simulation model shows a substantial increase of the lubricant film temperature compared to uncoated surfaces when both surfaces are coated with DLC. The reduction in friction coefficient when coating either only the ball or the disc are almost the same, lower than when coating both the surfaces but still higher than the uncoated case. The findings above indicate that it is reasonable to conclude that thermal effects are a likely cause for the decrease in coefficient of friction when operating under full film conditions, and in the mixed lubrication regime when DLC-coated surfaces are used.