Definition - What does Tribometer mean?

A tribometer is an instrument that is used to measure tribological properties, such as friction coefficients, wear, hardness and adhesion. This analytical instrument evaluates the physical interaction of two surfaces.

The wearing properties of a given material are typically tested by a tribometer by pressing a ball down on a rotating surface of the material. The measured properties provide insight into how easily the material breaks down over time.

Tribometry is important because each protective barrier and coating has its own set of triobological properties that affect the coating's ability to last over time. Coatings that can resist wear provide longer lasting protection than ones that rub off easily.

Corrosionpedia explains Tribometer

The degradation of a material over time depends on a variety of properties, including friction and corrosion. While coatings provide corrosion protection to metallic materials, the coatings themselves are still prone to physical damage and wear. The action of wear can be summarized through rubbing, where a physical force interacts with a material and potentially causes damage. The factors of rubbing are the tribological properties of the material, and include friction coefficients and wear volume.

The force of friction is defined by the equation:

F = μN,

where F is the frictional force, μ is the friction coefficient, and N is the normal force.

A tribometer measures the frictional coefficient by pressing a ball into a sample of the material and rotating the material to create motion across the surface. The mass of the material is determined before and after measurement, allowing an engineer to determine the volume loss after the rubbing. The change in volume due to rubbing gives a quantification of wear.

Many factors influence a material's tribological properties, including:

  • Atmospheric properties
  • Pressure of contact
  • Temperature
  • Velocity
  • Duration of the test
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