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What is Tribology?

December 16, 2010 2 comments

I get this question all the time! Most people have no idea about what the word “Tribology” means. When I ask them to guess I get some very interesting replies – but the most frequent one is” Study of Tribes”.

Well, here is what tribology is – it is the study of wear, friction and lubrication.

When any two surfaces are in contact with each other and are in relative motion you will encounter varying degrees of wear on the surfaces and friction. The study of this is called tribology. Lubricants are studied as the media used to influence the degree of wear and friction during these tribological interactions.

So, whats the big deal about all of this?
Think of it this way – almost anything that you see around you has tribology in action! Your shoe against the ground, hinge on a door, feeling of smoothness when you have lotion on your skin or a shaving blade that is being lubricated by shaving cream, engine of your car, and the list goes on… All of these examples have at least two surfaces interacting and many have a lubricant to moderate the interaction. Tribological consequences in some of these cases is quite severe – imagine a bad shaving cream. OUCH! Now, imagine a bad lubricating oil for an engine – that is an “OUCH” for the car.

Having good lubricants and well designed surfaces can help in having fuel efficient and longer lasting systems. Research and developments in Tribology contribute significantly towards keeping our planet green and keeping many other systems (including our biological systems like knee joints, hip joints, etc…) healthy and sustainable.

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