Tribology Letters

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 301–311 | Cite as

Nanocomposite UHMWPE–CNT Polymer Coatings for Boundary Lubrication on Aluminium Substrates

Original Paper


The boundary lubrication regime plays a very important role in determining the life span of any of the two mating parts under liquid-lubricated conditions. It is during the start\stop cycles when insufficient fluid is available to fully separate the surfaces in relative motion and thus unusual wear takes place; a case of boundary lubrication. The aim of this work is to study the feasibility of using polymer coatings as boundary lubricants. This study investigates the friction and wear properties of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) films coated on aluminium substrates under dry and base oil (without any additives)-lubricated conditions. In order to increase the load bearing capacity of the UHMWPE coatings, 0.1 wt% of single-walled carbon nanotubes are added. Experiments are carried out on a custom-built tribometer simulating a line contact between a polymer-coated cylindrical Al surface (shaft) and a flat uncoated Al plate as the counterface. The experimental parameters such as the normal load and the sliding speed are selected to simulate the boundary and mixed lubrication regimes for comparison purposes. Specific wear rates of the polymer films and bare Al surface under lubricated conditions are also calculated. Stribeck curves have been generated to evaluate the effectiveness of the pristine UHMWPE and the nanocomposite coatings in the various regimes of lubrication, especially the boundary lubrication regime. It is observed that the selected polymer coatings are effective in protecting the metallic surfaces without causing any observable oil contamination with wear debris.


Ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) Boundary lubrication Polymer films 



This study was funded by a research grant from the Faculty of Engineering, NUS (Grant# R-265-000-248-112). We also wish to thank Mr. K. C. Chung, Ticona Representative Office, Singapore, for donating UHMWPE powder for this study. One of the authors (M. Abdul Samad) would like to acknowledge the Graduate School of Engineering, NUS, for the scholarship awarded to support his studies at NUS.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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