Solid or dry film lubrication for OEM and MRO applicationsKen Thayer | August 28, 2019
Proper lubrication is critical to keep equipment in good running condition. Without it, friction between the components can cause an increase in temperature and surface wear, leading to failure.
Oil and grease are the most common industrial lubricants; however, they are not suitable for some applications. When temperatures are high, use is infrequent or parts are inaccessible after assembly, oil and grease lubricant may not be the best option. When these applications arise, design engineers and maintenance personnel must seek other alternatives.
One such alternative is solid and dry film lubricants, which are applied as a non-fluid coating by spraying, dipping or brushing onto the surface. Solid and dry film lubricants reduce the friction between parts and cannot be washed away. Additional benefits include low starting torque and compatibility with corrosive chemicals and acids.
Common types of dry film lubricants are hexagonal or flake graphite, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), boron nitride and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). These compounds are designed to reduce friction, binding, or wear, exclude water, or provide other specialized characteristics. Dry film lubricants are low shear-strength lubricants that shear in one plane within a crystal structure such as graphite, molybdenum disulfide and certain soaps.
When selecting a dry film lubricant, keep the following in mind.
- Graphite — Use in an environment with water vapor to facilitate the surface bonding of the graphite.
- Molybdenum disulfide — MoS2 has a similar structure to graphite but provides superior lubrication performance and can also be used in vacuums.
- Boron nitride — A ceramic powder with extreme high-temperature resistance.
- Polytetrafluoroethylene — PTFE exhibits a very low coefficient of friction properties (as low as 0.04) and can be used in extreme temperatures to 260° C.
In addition to reducing friction for sliding parts, some solid and dry film lubricants are optimized as rust preventive products. Rust preventive products leave a film that physically prevents water or corrosive chemicals from reaching a metal surface.
Mold release solid film products prevent materials from adhering to each other. Unlike permanent non-stick coatings, mold release agents typically require replenishment.
Food and beverage applications must use food-grade products. Food grade, FDA H1 or similarly approved solid or dry film lubrication products can be used in processing equipment applications where incidental contact with food, beverages or pharmaceuticals may occur.
The desirable properties and ease of use make solid dry film lubricants an excellent option for a wide range of OEM and MRO applications such as:
- Aircraft engines for airfoil lubrication
- Bearing surfaces
- Crankshafts and camshafts
- Cryogenic and low-temperature applications
- Cylinder walls
- High-temperature applications
- High-pressure applications
- Marine applications
- Metalworking cutting tools — broaches, gear cutters, milling cutters, taps, drills, reamers, chasers and punches
- Process equipment
- Railroad pins — brake pins and levers, roll stabilizer pins, trip pivots, eccentric bolts
- Threaded fasteners
- Valve stems
Solid film lubricants can extend tool and equipment life and can be used with steel or aluminum and other non-ferrous materials.
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