Abrasion and Erosion Tests
The performance of many products and engineering components depends critically on tribological properties of surfaces such as wear and friction. Indeed, wear problems cause major losses to UK industry, which was estimated to amount to be £650 million in a recent study. Abrasion and erosion wear present particular difficulties because, although there are many existing test methods for measuring the resistance of materials to these forms of wear, there is a lack of consistency in test procedures and interpretation of results.
Abrasive wear occurs when material is removed from the surface of a component by a cutting action or by a process of multiple indentations from abrasive particles (e.g. by rolling particles in 3-body abrasion). This may be an intended and controlled process in component manufacture, such as filing or grinding, or it may occur randomly in machine operation, such as the wear of digger teeth when working in gravel. It can also occur with two smooth surfaces rubbing together but with small hard contaminant particles getting in between them. Abraded surfaces show damage, which can range from fine scratching to deep gouges. If the component is made from a ductile material, such as steel, the wear debris can be spiral in shape, similar to machining swarf. For very hard materials, the wear debris tends to be in the form of chips.
NPL's activities are focussed on developing methods that will help UK industry to evaluate and solve their friction and wear problems and to enable them to develop a robust testing strategy.
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