Development studies of lubricating fluids to accelerate removal of material from silicon nitride
The superior qualities of ceramics such as high hardness, chemical stability and wear resistance make them promising tribological materials for machine elements, for example, pumps, bearings and heat engines. Ceramics are hard and brittle, therefore, machining such materials is time-consuming, difficult and expensive. A low cost machining process that can remove material rapidly while maintaining a good surface finish is required. The general aim of the studies presented is to find a correlation between the wear mechanisms and surface modifications induced by interactions of tribochemical nature and to identify the most effective combination of parameters involved in producing high material removal rates of ceramics. This study concentrates on silicon nitride, as this material has most potential for use in industry. The influence of lubricant chemistry on the friction and wear of silicon nitride is investigated using a ball-on -plate tribotester and a modified four-ball machine. A wide variety of liquid lubricants and additives supplied by Castrol International are tested to evaluate the role of the chemical characteristics of the lubricant on the friction and wear of silicon nitride. Surface and chemical analysis results reveal that by using different chemistries of liquids, the material removal rate and the surface finish of the silicon nitride can be significantly altered. The highest material removal rate is obtained when using the ester base fluid T80884 + 0.3% triethanol amine. This gives an increase by four fold when compared to the material removal rate obtained with the industrial reference slurry Kemet. The topography of the silicon nitride ball after the grinding test is found to be very smooth indicating that the predominant mechanism of material removal rate could be due to a tribochemical reaction occurring at the contact interface.