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From the Greek words tribo ("rub") and logia("study"), tribology is the science which studies the phenomena liable to occur between two material systems in contact, immobile or in relative motion.
This science covers, amongst others, all the areas of friction, wear and lubrication which can be defined as follows:
  • Friction: phenomenon which tends to oppose the motion of one surface in contact with another.
  • Wear: degradation of a surface which results in a modification of geometry, a loss of mass, etc. There are several types of wear with which tribology is more particularly concerned:
  • Adhesion - seizure
      • Abrasion - erosion
      • Fretting
      • Surface fatigue
      • Corrosion
      • Tribo-corrosion
  • Lubrication: all of the techniques making it possible to reduce friction and wear between two elements in contact or in relative motion.
These phenomena therefore bring into play a multitude of parameters influencing to a greater or lesser extent the operation of the system. These parameters can be the motion characteristics (amplitude, speed, etc.), the contact geometry (open/closed, clearances, etc.), the external stresses (pressure, number of cycles, etc.), the environment (temperature, humidity, etc.), the topography of the parts (roughnesses, etc.) and the combination of materials involved (mechanical characteristics, composition, etc.).
These studies of tribological systems, via the generalisation of the use of surface treatments and coatings, permit therefore an optimisation of surfaces aimed at providing proper operation and reliability of machines, the reduction of the cost of obtention of friction surfaces, the improvement of the output and longevity of machines while at the same time providing safety of property and people.
Surface treatments and coatings (STCs) indeed play a leading role, unanimously acknowledged today, in the resolution of tribological problems.
Whether they are structural transformation (induction quenching, etc.), diffusion (ARCOR, TENIFER, SURSULF, STANAL, etc.), conversion (PHOSPHATING, SULF BT, etc.) or coating (TEGLISS, DOT, SDA, CERTESS, etc.), STCs all give a specificity and a functionality to the surface of the material treated.