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Spiral Orbit TribometerThe spiral orbit tribometer (SOT) bridges the gap between full-scale life testing and typically unrealistic accelerated life testing of ball-bearing lubricants in conjunction with bearing ball and race materials. The SOT operates under realistic conditions and quickly produces results, thereby providing information that can guide the selection of lubricant, ball, and race materials early in a design process. The SOT is based upon a simplified, retainerless thrust bearing comprising one ball between flat races (see figure). The SOT measures lubricant consumption and degradation rates and friction coefficients in boundary lubricated rolling and pivoting contacts. The ball is pressed between the lower and upper races with a controlled force and the lower plate is rotated. The combination of load and rotation causes the ball to move in a nearly circular orbit that is, more precisely, an opening spiral. The spiral s pitch is directly related to the friction coefficient. At the end of the orbit, the ball contacts the guide plate, restoring the orbit to its original radius. The orbit is repeatable throughout the entire test. A force transducer, mounted in-line with the guide plate, measures the force between the ball and the guide plate, which directly relates to the friction coefficient. The SOT, shown in the figure, can operate in under ultra-high vacuum (10(exp -9) Torr) or in a variety of gases at atmospheric pressure. The load force can be adjusted between 45 and 450 N. By varying the load force and ball diameter, mean Hertzian stresses between 0.5 and 5.0 GPa can be obtained. The ball s orbital speed range is between 1 and 100 rpm.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Other - NASA Tech Brief
Pepper, Stephen V.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Jones, William R., Jr.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Kingsbury, Edward
(Interesting Rolling Contact Walpole, MA, United States)
Jansen, Mark J.
(Toledo Univ. OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
February 1, 2007
Publication Information
Publication: NASA Tech Briefs, February 2007
Subject Category
Technology Utilization And Surface Transportation
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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