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Polymer-based bearing materials

The role of fillers and fibre reinforcement

J. K. L a n c a s t e r * Following a brief survey of the different types of polymer-based bearing materials currently available, various effects of fillers and reinforcing fibres on friction, wear and mechanical properties are discussed. During sliding against metals, fillers play a major part in friction and wear processes by modifying the topography of the counterface as a result of transfer, abrasion, or corrosion. Examples are given from recent work with carbon fibre-reinforced polymers.

Numerous types of non-metallic bearing materials are now available commercially, and the user is presented with a somewhat bewildering choice. Polymers, or composites based on polymers, constitute the largest group of materials and it is with these that the present paper is mainly concerned. Several reviews of the properties and applications of polymer-based bearing materials have been published during the past few years 1"2, 3, and only a brief, general survey will therefore be given here. The major part of the paper is devoted to discussing the effects of fillers and reinforcing fibres in polymers on the wear properties of the composites.

General survey There are four main areas in which the use of polymeric bearing materials is indicated:
1 Where fluid lubricants are ineffective because of hostile environmental conditions, such as high temperatures, low temperatures, corrosive atmospheres, etc Where fluids cannot be tolerated because of product or environmental contamination Where fluids are undesirable because of the difficulty, or lack of opportunity, to provide maintenance Where the fluids available are poor boundary lubricants for more conventional metallic bearing materials.

2 3 4

In the first three situations, and often in the fourth, solid/ solid contact occurs between the sliding surfaces leading to wear rates which are significantly greater than those commonly obtained with rolling element bearings or hydrodynamically-lubricated plain bearings. The coefficients of friction also tend to be greater, and the temperature rise due to frictional heating thus becomes a significant factor. The latter is exacerbated by the fact that most polymerbased materials have thermal conductivities one to two orders of magnitude lower than those of metals, which impedes the dissipation of frictional heat. Within the general area of bearing technology, therefore 4, dry bearing materials are best suited for applications at speeds of sliding, below about 10 m/s. Ministry of Defence (PE), Royal Aircraft Establishment, t:arnborough, Hampshire, England

Of the very large number of polymers available commercially or experimentally, only a small proportion are in significant use as bearing materials. These are listed in Table 1 which also shows some of the more commonly used fillers and reinforcements. The effects of fillers on the mechanical and thermal properties of polymers are interrelated with those on the friction and wear properties. For example, additions of glass fibre increase the strength, and hence the load carrying capacity of a bearing, but may also increase the coefficient of friction and thus reduce the limiting speed. Conversely, the addition of solid lubricants tends to reduce strength and load-carrying capacity, but also reduces the coefficient of friction and hence the amount of frictional heating, which increases the limiting speed. Each type of composite polymer-based material will therefore exhibit a characteristic curve relating the maximum permissible pressure to the maximum permissible velocity. These fimiting P-V relationships are comparatively easy to determine in laboratory tests, but are of less value for design purposes than the P-V relationship which determines the boundary of an acceptably low wear rate. Data for the latter is much more difficult, and tedious, to accumulate and is available only for a few materials. An attempt to summarise P-V relationships for continuous operation from published data on commercial materials has been made by the Engineering Sciences Data Unit of the Royal Aeronautical Society s and a selection of results for various polymer composites is given in Fig 1. The particular wear rate chosen for reference purposes is 25/am/100 h for a unidirectionally loaded journal bearing on a steel shaft. It may be noted that, in general, the P-V line is inversely linear only over a limited range. Thus, only over this range is the specific wear rate constant - volume of wear per unit sliding distance per unit load - or alternatively is the depth wear rate proportional to the product PV. The concept of a unique PV factor characterizing the performance of a dry bearing material is therefore invalid; the P-V relationship is more informative. Because the wear properties of different materials depend so markedly on the conditions of sliding as well as on the type of material, it is only possible to provide very general indications of the order of magnitude of specific wear rates

TRIBOLOGY December 1972


characteristic of each type. A considerable amount of wear data has been obtained from accelerated laboratory tests of the pin and ring or pin and disc types, and Fig 2 shows how polymer-based materials compare with others in these conditions. The spread for any one group of materials is too large to be useful for design purposes, but the results nevertheless show that the wear rates of most filled or reinforced plastics are not very different from those exhibited by solid-film lubricants and carbon-graphites. Thus, the wear properties of polymer-composites are not always a main reason for their use in particular bearing applications. Provided that the wear rate is acceptably low, other factors, such as cost, availability, ease of fabrication, mechanical properties, environmental compatibility, etc, may singly, or in combination, dictate the choice of material. The improvements in mechanical and thermal properties IO2

of polymers which can be achieved by the addition of fillers or reinforcing fibres have been widely studied 6' 7 and will not be discussed in detail here. However, some typical results for glass reinforced polymers are given in Table 1, and Fig 3 shows the order of magnitude improvements produced in strength and sti,Tness by the incorporation of chopped carbon fibres into thermoplastics 8. It may be noted from both sets of results that the increases in stiffness are much greater than those in strength (tensile, flexural or compressive). With thermosetting resins, the highest strengths are generally obtained after surface treatment of the reinforcing fibres to increase bonding to the matrix. Silane coupling agents are effective with glass fibres and thermal or chemical roughening for carbon fibres.

Wear processes
Before examining the role of fillers and reinforcements in the wear of polymer-based composites, it is pertinent to discuss briefly some current ideas about the wear processes in polymers. During sliding against a rough metal counterface, the metal asperities penetrate the softer polymer, and wear occurs via plastic deformation leading to shear, or micro-cutting. On smooth metallic surfaces, however, there is an increasing amount of circumstantial evidence supporting the idea that wear is a consequence of a number of repeated asperity contacts leading to localized fatigue failure on a micro-scale 9. The fatigue properties of a material can be characterized approximately by the Wohler relationship, m = (Oo/O) t where m is the number of cycles to failure, Oo is the failure stress corresponding to a single application of the load, o is the amplitude of the applied cyclic stress, and t is a material constant. Assuming that wear occurs solely by fatigue, the wear rate will be inversely proportional to the number of cycles to failure, and hence W ~ a t o~ t, i.e. to the product of a factor involving the individual asperity stresses and one involving the mechanical properties of the material. In the idealized case of a single hemispherical asperity of radius R on the metal counterface, in contact with a plane polymer surface, o cx R -2/3. Hence W ~x o~tR -2t/3. To assess the relative importance of these two factors, order of magnitude values are needed for the various parameters. The exponent t can be derived from fatigue curves of bulk polymers, although the values will not be strictly accurate because surface fatigue properties may differ from those in bulk as a result of the surface changes induced b y the sliding process. Typical values of t for rigid thermoplastics, such as nylons and acetals ] are of the order of 7. The ultimate tensile strengths of nylons and acetals are not usually increased by particulate fillers or random fibre re-


\ \ .....&c \

Nf N


t._ 12.

\ \ \
i o -I



I O- 2

1 0 -1

Velocity [m/s]


Fig 1 P- V curves for various polymer-based bearing materials.

(a) unfilled thermoplastics; (b) ptfe; (c) filled ptfe; (d) porous bronze-ptfe-Pb; (e) woven ptfe-glass fibre-thermosetting resin; (f) reinforced thermoset-MoS2; (g) thermosetting resin-carbon/ graphite-ptfe

Specific wear rote [ mm3/Nm]

id 8 to-7 io-6 io-S id 4 io-3 io-2

Mild steel M e t a l s - l a m e l l a r solids Ptfe U n f i l l e d thermoplastics Reinforced thermosGts and solid l u b r i c a n t s

Filled-reinforced thermoplastics Metals-lomellor solids- p t f e Solid-film l u b r i c a n t s C a r b o n fibre reinforced therrnoplostics C a r b o n graphites Tungsten carbide-cobalt on itself C a r b o n fibre (Type I] reinforced thermosets
Porous bronze- Pb-p t f ii ........

Woven ptfe-glass fibre

Fig 2 Comparison of specific wear rates of various groups of materials during sliding against steel at room temperature. Pin/disc-type tests


TRIBOLOGY December 1972

forcement by more than a factor of 2 or 3 - see for example Fig 3. Thus if the addition of fillers to these materials can give rise to an increase in the average radius of the counterface asperities during sliding by a factor of 3 or 4, the reduction in wear from this cause will begin to exceed that possible
Table 1 Main plastics of interest for bearings

from increases in strength. Recent unpublished work on the characterization of metal counterface topographies produced during wear against various types of polymers and reinforced composites indicates that the changes in average radius of curvature of the counterface asperities caused by some fillers can be as large as a factor of about

Base polymers Thermoplastics Polyethylene (high m.w.) Acetal (homo- & co-polymer) Polyamides (nylon 6,6 6) Ptfe Polyphenylene oxide Polyimide Thermosetting resins Epoxies Polyesters Phenolics Silicones

Max useful temp [ C ] 80 125 130 280 200 300 200 130 200 300

Fillers and reinforcements Asbestos Glass Carbon Textile fibres Mica Oxides MoS2 Graphite Ptfe (particles or fibre) Bronze Silver Carbon / Improve mechanical properties

] I Reduce friction } Improve conductivity

Typical properties Ultimate tensile strength [MN/m2] Acetal Glass-reinforced acetal Epoxy Glass-reinforced epoxy 70 90 70 170 Young's modulus [GN/m 2] 3 6 2 20 Heat distortion temp at 1.8 MN/m 2 [C] 100 150 140 230
f |

Coeff of expansion [10-S/C] 8 3.5 9 3.5

Izod impact strength [kJ/m 2] 240 12 4 50

I 6

Typ, n co

sit, s

o E

_ _

I" 5 F





"O O m 05 I I I I i










Volume fraction carbon fibre

Volurn fraction carbon fibre Fig 3 (A) relative stiffnesses of carbon-fibre-reinforced thermoplastics. (B) relative strengths of carbon-fibrereinforced thermoplastics. Open symbols -- Type II fibres; closed symbols - Type I fibres. A flexure; O tension; [ ] compression

TRIBOLOGY December 1972


15. Clearly in these circumstances, the effect on the wear rate of modifications to the counterface topography will greatly exceed any effects resulting from the differing mechanical properties attributable to the fillers. There are several ways in which polymer composites can modify a metal counterface during sliding, as illustrated in Fig 4. These different processes will now be examined separately, with particular reference to carbon fibre reinforced polymers.

In general, therefore, it is easier to establish a coherent transfer film in accelerated wear tests than in practice on journal bearings, and this distinction could be responsible for the fact that wear rates in bearings are sometimes greater than those predicted from accelerated laboratory tests. However, the converse effect has also been noted 13. Coherent transfer films on steel counterfaces are produced by carbon fibre

Transfer from a polymer to a metal counterface usually occurs via adhesive interactions with small areas of the polymer whose cohesion within the surface layer has been weakened by repeated stress cycles. The adhesive forces may also be supplemented b y mechanical interactions with surface defects on the counterface. For unfilled polymers, transfer can be beneficial or detrimental to the wear process, depending upon the topography generated. One way to assess the effects o f transfer is to compare unlubricated wear rates obtained during repeated sliding over the same track on a metal counterface with lubricated wear rates measured during single traversals over a counterface o f the same initial roughness 11. In the former situation, the steady state wear rate depends on the transfer film developed, whereas in the latter appreciable transfer does not occur. Fig 5 shows some results from this type of experiment and it may be noted that transfer causes increased wear with the brittle polymers and reduced wear for the more ductile ones. It is reasonable to suppose that transferred fragments from the ductile materials are readily deformed during repeated contacts and generate a surface which is smoother than the original metal. The localized asperity stresses are therefore reduced, and in turn the magnitude of the rate o f wear. When fillers or reinforcements are added to a polymer, it is possible for transfer to occur either from the filler, the polymer, or both. Solid lubricant fillers such as MoS2 or ptfe in both thermoplastics and thermosets readily transfer to a metal counterface and it is partly for this reason that such additives can be effective in reducing coefficients of friction. A similar situation occurs with carbon fibre reinforced ptfe, where the transfer film appears to contain appreciable amounts o f carbon from the degradation of the fibres 12. On the other hand, with glass fibre reinforced ptfe, the transfer film is predominantly ptfe. Transfer of lamellar solid lubricants from polymer composites is complicated by two factors. Firstly the transfer process itself, involving adhesion of the lamellar solids to the counterface, is not very efficiend 3 and in general, lamellar solid contents above about 10% vol are required to obtain minimum values of the coefficient o f friction. At this level o f concentration, there can be some deterioration in the mechanical strength o f the composite. At lower concentrations, pfte is more effective as an additive to polymers than lamellar solids, and in fibrous form does not degrade and may even improve the mechanical properties of the matrix. The second complication is that transfer film formation is very dependent on the geometrical sliding arrangement, and in particular on such parameters as the area of counterface to be covered, and the number and frequency of repeated contacts per unit area of counterface. In accelerated wear tests of the pin and disc type with small apparent areas of contact, the frequency of repeated contact over a particular area of the counterface is much higher than when the apparent contact area is large, as in a thrust or journal bearing.

Counterface asperities penetrate polymer; wear rate characteristic of initial roughness microcutting, low cycle fatigue)

Counterface modified by

Friction polymer/ reaction product



r I
Roughness increases Roughness decreases

Roughness increases

Wear increases (microcutting)

Wear decreases (fatigue)


decreases (hydrodynamic effects) Wear increases (adhesion/ fatigue)

Fig 4 Changes occuring to a counterface during sliding, and their effects on the wear of polymers



r" .13 ::3

13 u E




13 14




Elongation [ % ]
Fig 5 Assessment of the effect of transfer on wear of various

polymers. (1) epoxy-828; (2) polystyrene; (3) pvdc; (4) polyester-17449; (5) pmma; (6) ptfce; (7) abs; (8) polycarbonate; (9) nylon 1 1; (10) nylon 6.6; (11) ptfe; (12) polypropylene; (13) polyacetal; (14) polyethylene


TRIBOLOGY December 1972

reinforced ptfe only when the nominal stress is below about 0.7 MN/m 2. The wear rates of plain bearings of these composites can therefore sometimes be appreciably lower than wear rates occurring in pin on disc tests 14. Some idea of the magnitude by which transfer film formation can effect the wear rates of composites is given by the following example. Fig 6 shows the wear-time relationship for an epoxy-carbon fibre composite sliding against stainless steel. During the early stages of sliding a transfer film develops on the steel and the wear rate gradually decreases to a limiting value as the original counterface topography is replaced by that of the transfer film. Analysis of the film shows that it consists of degraded carbon fibre together with some resin from the matrix. At the point A, water is added to the system. Within two revolutions, the transfer film is removed from the counterface, the original topography is exposed and the rate of wear increases by a factor of about 500. Effects of this type are presumably responsible for the common observation the the wear rates of many commercially available dry bearing materials often increase in wet or alternate wet and dry conditions.
Abrasion by fillers

initial counterface roughness. Further experiments with the same two composites on different metal counterfaces, all approximately of the same initial surface roughness, show a similar dichotomy in the behaviour of the two types of fibre reinforcement - Fig 7B. There is a considerable vari-

~-~ E

0"4 O" 3

No trensf



0.2 f Transfer film

I I I ~.



Water added



60 v



IO3 Revolutions
Fig 6 Effect of adding water to a transfer film. Epoxy/Type

Clean surfaces of unfilled polymers do not mechanically damage metal surfaces during sliding is. Abrasion of a counterface by polymer composites, therefore, is directly attributable either to the fillers or reinforcements present, or to contamination by abrasive particles from the environment. Fillers which roughen the counterface beyond its original value will clearly tend to increase the wear rate, and this is sometimes observed in practice when using glass-filled polymers sliding against soft metal counterfaces, such as aluminium alloy, bronze, or titanium. A furthei factor which may arise in these cases is that particles of the counterface metal may be detached by abrasive action of the filler, embedded in the polymer, and then exacerbate counterface damage by adhesive wear. The relative hardness of the filler and the counterface can thus be an important consideration in dry bearing design. Carbons and graphites, which are widely used as fillers for thermoplastics, are mildly abrasive towards metals, both intrinsically and also by virtue of the small amounts of impurities almost inevitably present. The degree of intrinsic abrasiveness decreases with increasing amount of graphitic order 16, and the difference between the abrasiveness of carbons and graphites is also accentuated by the fact that graphites will transfer to a counterface and protect the metal against damage. Transfer film formation from nongraphitic carbon fillers does not usually occur, except on very hard counterface materials 17. The following examples give a general idea of the effects of counterface abrasion by fibre reinforcements on the wear rate of polymer composites. Fig 7A shows wear volume/time relationships for ptfe containing Type I carbon fibre (a) and Type I1 fibre (b) sliding against mild steel surfaces of three different roughnesses. Type I carbon fibres, heat-treated at 2500C, show some degree of graphitic order whereas Type I1 fibres, heat-treated at 1500C are wholly non-graphitic. The Type I fibre composites develop a transfer film on the counterface, but despite this there is a significant increase in wear rate with substrate roughness. Type II fibres on the other hand, are mildly abrasive, and polish the counterface rather than form a transfer film. The wear rate is then independent of the

I carbon fibre on stainless steel


Type I fibre

Type 13" fibre



IO 5 revolutions of disc Fig 7 Wear volume/time relationships for ptfe-carbon fibre composites. A - o n mild steel; (1) 0.04/am c.l.a.; (2) 0.18/am c.l.a.; (3) 0.5/am c.l.a. B-on various counterfaces; (a) cast iron; (b) mild steel; (c) tool steel; (d) copper; (e) aluminium alloy; (f) copper-10% aluminium alloy

TRIBOLOGY December 1972


ation in wear rate of the Type I fibre composites, (a), presumably depending on the quality of the transfer film developed, whilst the wear rates of the Type II fibre composites (b) show less variation. Differences between composites with abrasive and nonabrasive fillers become even more dramatic during sliding in wet conditions where transfer films do not form so readily, if at all TM. On Fig 8A, curves (a) and (b) show the steadystate wear rates of e p o x y resin composites containing Type 1 and Type II carbon fibres respectively, during sliding against stainless steel in water. There is little difference in the wear rates of the two composites on the smooth surfaces, but on the rougher ones the difference increases to a factor of about 100. The stainless steel is virtually unaffected by the Type I fibre composites, but is polished by those containing Type II fibres. In the latter case, therefore, the steadystate wear rates became almost independent of the original surface roughness. Confirmation that the low wear rate of the Type II fibre composites is wholly attributable to the polishing action of the fibres on the counterface is shown by the results in curve (c) where a counterface was chosen - Cr plate - which is too hard to be significantly polished by the Type II fibres. The variation in wear rate with surface roughness for this case is almost identical to that for the non-abrasive Type I fibre composite. These results suggest that there may be some advantages to be gained by deliberately adding abrasives to polymer composites to facilitate low wear. Fig 8B shows the results of adding 0.1% of A1203 particles, 3 / l m diameter, to epoxy/Type I carbon fibre composites. The difference between the wear rates in water without abrasive additions (a) and with the additions, (b) is about 400 times. Line (c) shows the wear rate of a composite without abrasives during sliding in the wear track on a stainless steel counterface produced by a composite containing abrasives. Clearly the whole of the reduction in wear rate of 400 times is attributable to polishing of the counterface.


A further process of counterface modification which may occur during sliding is corrosion. This will, of course, be particularly relevant to ferrous metals in humid environments or in water and aqueous solutions. Corrosion will also be enhanced in the presence of carbon-graphite fillers because their electro-negativity relative to iron will introduce an electrochemical component. To illustrate the effects of corrosion, Fig 9 shows the wear rates of a non-abrasive composite epoxy/Type I carbon fibres - on three different counterfaces during sliding in water and in sea-water. On EN58B stainless steel, the wear rates are identical in b o t h fluids but on tool steel, the wear rate in sea water is a factor of about ten lower than in pure water. Examination o f the wear tracks on the counterfaces showed that there was a significant amount of polishing on the hard tool steel, but none on the softer stainless steel. The results on 2S80 stainless steel are intermediate, because 2S80 is not fully corrosion-resistant to sea-water. In more corrosive fluids, such as FeCI3 solution, the wear rates on 2S80 fall to even lower values. One factor which should be mentioned in connection with all these lubricated wear experiments is that when polishing of the counterface occurs, either by abrasion, or corrosion, there is the possibility of an increased proportion of the load being supported by hydrodynamic film formation. This will also lead to a reduction in wear rate.





<5 s

,,~ E E


Id 6

it5 7







a bc


Initial counterface roughness [pm] Fig 8 Variation of wear rate of epoxy-carbon fibre composites in water. A (a) Type I fibre on 2S80 stainless steel; (b) Type II fibre on 2S80; (c) Type II fibre on Cr-plate; B (a) Type I fibre on 2S80; (b) Type I fibre + 0.1% AI203 on 2S80; (c) Type I fibre on track produced by (b)

The main objective of this article has been twofold; firstly to show that there is a wide variation in the tribological properties of currently available polymer-based composites, and secondly to demonstrate that a significant part of the variability in wear properties can result from the effects of fillers on the counterface surface. It would be misleading to suggest, however, that counterface modifications b y fillers are the only cause of differences in the wear properties of polymer composites. For example, it is implicit in the simplified treatment o f fatigue wear given earlier that the composite is homogeneous and that any applied stress is shared by the filler and the matrix in proportion. In the sliding situation this may not always be correct. Carbon fibres in polymers are known to support the load preferentially 19 so that the friction and wear properties of these materials do not depend very greatly on the type of polymer matrix. A similar state of affairs is evident in the friction and wear properties of glassreinforced thermoplastics 2. With ptfe-based composites, ptfe may sometimes smear over the filler particles exposed at the sliding surface ~2 and reduce friction b y the classical thin film lubrication process. When metal fillers are involved, there is the possibility of metal transfer to the counterface and adhesive interactions between these transferred fragments and the remaining filler particles. Some of the interaction processes involved can be very complex, and in the ptfe/lead/porous bronze system, Pratt 2~ has concluded that the bronze particles act as a source of 'hotspots' during sliding which initiate a chemical reaction between the PTFE and lead, the bronze also acting as a catalyst for the reaction. The net effect o f the ptfe reaction is to facilitate bonding of a thin transferred layer of ptfe to the counterface surface. The three processes of counterface modification described - transfer, abrasion and corrosion - are all


T R I B O L O G Y December 1972

Wear rate [ ram3/Nm]

i o

Stainless steel EN 58B Tool steel AID 71B
Water So w a t e r Dry Water water --O

I f -7

1(5 6

1 2 3 4

Pinchbeck, P.H. 'A review of plastic beatings', Wear, Vol 5, No2(1962) pp85-113 Steijn, R.P. 'Friction and wear of plastics', Metals Eng Quarterly, Vol 7, No 2 (1967) pp 9-21 Pratt, G.C., 'Plastic-based bearings', Chapter 8, Lubrication and lubricants, E.R. Braithwaite (Ed) Elsevier (1967) Neale, M.J. 'Selection of bearings', Proc [nstn mech Engrs, Vol 182, Pt 3A (1967) pp 547-556 'Dry rubbing bearings - a guide to design and materials selection', Engineering Sciences Data Unit Item 68018 (1968) Broutman, L.J. 'Fibre-reinforced plastics', Chapter 13, Modern composite materials. Broutman-Krock (Ed) Addison-Wesley Publishing Co (1967) Holliday, L. (Ed) Composite materials, Chapter 5 - Glass systems, Chapter 6 - Thermoplastic systems, Elsevier (1966) Giltrow, J.P. and Lancaster, J.K. 'Properties of carbon fibre reinforced polymers relevant to applications in tribology', Paper 31, I~t Conf on Carbon Fibres Plastics Institute, London (1971) pp 251-257 James, D.I. (Ed) Abrasion of Rubber, Maclaren (1967) Papers by I.V. Kraghelskii, p 3; M.M. Reznikovskii, p 119; I.V. Kraghelskii and E.F. Nepomnyashchii, p 135 Ogorkiewicz, R.M. Engineering Properties of thermoplastics, Wiley - Interscience (1970) Lancaster, J.K., 'Relationships between the wear of polymers and their mechanical properties', Proc Instn Mech Engrs, Vol 183, Pt 3P(1968) pp98-106 Giltrow, J.P. and Lancaster, J.K. 'The friction and wear of carbon fibre-reinforced ptfe~ Proc AFML-MRI Conf on Solid Lubricants, Kansas City, Mo (1969) AFML-TR-70-127 Lancaster, J.K. 'Lubrication by transferred films of solid lubricants', Trans A m Sac Lubric Engrs, Vol 8 (1965) pp 146-155 Giltrow, J.P. and Lancaster, J.K. 'Carbon fibres in tribology', Sac Chem Ind 3rd Conf on Industrial Carbons and Graphite, London (Mar 1970) Lancaster, J.K. 'Abrasive wear of polymers', Wear, Vol 14, No 4 (1969) pp 223-239 Grattan, P.A. and Lancaster, J.K. 'Abrasion by lamellar solid lubricants', Wear, Vo110, No 6 (1967) pp 453-468 Gittrow, J.P. and Lancaster, J.K. 'The role of the counterface in the friction and wear of carbon fibre reinforced thermosetting resins', Wear, Vol 16, No 5 (1970) pp 359-374 Lancaster, J.K. 'Lubrication of carbon fibre reinforced polymers. Part I. Water and aqueous solutions', Wear, Vol20, No 3(1972) pp315-333 Lancaster, J.K. ~The effect of carbon fibre reinforcement on the friction and wear of polymers', Brit J A p p l Phys, Ser2, V o l l (1968) pp549-559 Theberge, J.E. 'Properties of internally lubricated glassfortified thermoplastics for gears and bearings', Proc Am lnt Sac Lubric Engrs Conf Solid Lubrication, Denver (197l) pp 166-184 Pratt, G.C. 'Plastics as bearing materials with particular reference to ptfe', TransJPlast Inst, Vol 32 (1964) pp 255-260 Butterfield, R., Farmer, D. and Scurr, E.M. 'The role of interlacial energy in wear at lubricated plastic-metal contacts', Wear, Vol 18, No 3 (1971) pp 243-250 Vinogradov, G.A. and Bezborodko, M.D., 'Friction, wear and lubrication of plastics', Wear, Vol 5, No 6 (1962) pp 467-477 Bowers, R.C., Clinton, W.C. and Zisman, W.A. 'Friction and lubrication of nylon', Ind Engng Chem, Vo146 (1954) pp 2416-2419 Lancaster, J.K. 'Lubrication of carbon fibre reinforced polymers. Part II. Organic fluids', Wear, Vol 20, No 3 (1972) pp335-351

0 DX


------------I( --'O __ __ - - X --X --X


0 X

Stainless steel 2S 80

ScQ w Q t e r 3/o Cu2SO 4 3O/o F C l 3 Silicone fluid Mineral o i l Diester Dr),

5 6

Fig 9 Wear rates of epoxy-Type I carbon fibre in various fluids on three counterface metals. En 58B - 17-20% Cr, 7-10% Ni, 2% Mn, 0.6% Ti, 0.2% Si, 0.15% C. AID 71B 13-16% W, 3.3% Cr, 0.65-0.8% C, 0.25% V. 2S80 - 15-18%

7 8

Cr, 1-3% Ni, 1% Mn, 0.8% Si, 0.25% C

relevant to the o p e r a t i o n of p o l y m e r composites either unlubricated or in the presence o f fluids which are not normally considered as lubricants, e.g. water, or a q u e o u s solutions. The effects o f conventional h y d r o c a r b o n or synthetic lubricants on p o l y m e r wear, however, m a y also be significant. Pratt 3 has p o i n t e d out that the life of acetal-porous bronze composite bearings is greatly increased b y traces o f oil, and unfilled nylons and acetals also benefit. There is some evidence to suggest that the m o s t effective organic fluids in reducing wear o f polymers are those with chemically analogous structures 22. C o n v e n t i o n a l b o u n d a r y lubricants tend to reduce friction only slightly and then mainly b y virtue of adsorption on the metal counterface 23. On polymers themselves, the paucity o f adsorption sites often precludes the establishment o f close-packed adsorbed m o n o layers 24. Organic fluids also influence transfer film f o r m a t i o n on the counterface. E x p e r i m e n t s with carbon fibre reinforced t h e r m o s e t t i n g resins show that the transfer films do not contain significant a m o u n t s o f carbon emanating f r o m the fibres, as in dry conditions, but instead are mixtures o f resin and lubricant 2s. It is possible that the lubricant plasticizes the p o l y m e r or is itself partially p o l y m e r i z e d , but details of the processes involved are still obscure. As w i t h the transfer films f o r m e d during dry sliding, those p r o d u c e d in lubricated sliding effectively mask the t o p o g r a p h y o f the underlying counterface and so reduce the rate o f wear - Fig 9. The rates o f wear in organic lubricants are o f the same order o f magnitude as those obtained dry and in corrosive fluids (FeCI3), and t h e y are also similar to those in water for the same c o m p o s i t e with a small p r o p o r t i o n o f added abrasive. F o u r different processes o f counterface m o d i f i c a t i o n - transfer o f carbon, transfer o f plasticized p o l y m e r , corrosion and abrasion thus all lead to essentially the same end result. Clearly the n e x t stage in understanding the way in which counterface modifications determine the rate o f wear o f polymer composites is to devise sensitive techniques for characterizing in detail the t o p o g r a p h y and c o m p o s i t i o n o f the counterface surfaces.
Acknowledgements This article is C r o w n copyright, and r e p r o d u c e d b y permission o f the Controller, Her Majesty's S t a t i o n e r y Office. It has been based on a presentation at a Materials Science Club meeting on Frictional Materials held at Brunel University in April 1972.

10 11




15 16 17









T R I B O L O G Y December 1972