Recent observations on the performance of hybrid ceramic tribo-contacts

Buttery, Michael, Cropper, M., Wardzinski, B., Lewis, S., McLaren, S. and Kreuser, J. (2015) Recent observations on the performance of hybrid ceramic tribo-contacts. In: 16th European Space Mechanisms and Tribology Symposium 2015, 23–25 September 2015, Bilbao, Spain.

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Hybrid ceramic ball bearings offer great promise in space applications but have not been rapidly adopted by industry perhaps partly due to the relatively low amount of published data on specific in-vacuum performance. Such bearings, having, typically, silicon nitride balls and 440C or high nitrogen steel (e.g. X30) raceways offer the potential for long life and low torque noise due a combination of chemical inertness, high hardness and the extremely smooth surfaces produced in ceramic balls. Though initial benefits were foreseen for high speed applications, the potential for reduced adhesive forces and wear in conditions of marginal lubrication, and for improvements in lubricant lifetime in long life applications limited by oil tribo-degradation render hybrid ceramic bearings more generally attractive.
This paper draws together a number of experimental studies carried out at Pin-on-Disc (POD), Spiral Orbit Tribometer (SOT) and bearing-level recently at ESTL.

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