Why Abrasion Resistance is Essential for Compressors & Manufacturing
Machinery’s moving parts are subject to abrasion, which is the tendency of friction to weaken or wear down material. That’s why, from spacecrafts to airplanes to more earth-bound machines, attention to abrasion resistance is necessary.
Abrasion resistance is the ability of machine parts, composite or pure materials, and entire structures to weather repeated friction. Strong resistance enables these elements to continue functioning safely and efficiently, avoiding wear caused by repetitive mechanical motion.
Abrasion can occur in moving parts as well as fixed elements which support and interact with moving parts.
How Does Abrasion Occur?
Abrasion can take place simultaneously on completely separate fixed and moving elements. For example, car tire tread wears down due to repeated, forceful impact with the concrete of roads.
But at the same time, the concrete is experiencing abrasion as well due to wear and tear from thousands of cars pressing on it at high speeds, as well as from weather extremes and possible anti-ice treatments.
Abrasion resistance can help both objects maintain their structural integrity: The rubber of the tire may be constructed from a wear-resistant compound and sealed with a coating which protects it.
At the same time, the road may be made of a type of concrete which withstands temperature changes well and can endure a great deal of weight and friction.
It’s easy to see how this principle can be applied to abrasion resistance in compressors and manufacturing.
However, in order to provide optimum resistance, it’s important to discover the extend of potential damage.
Abrasion Scrub Testing
The first step in building abrasion resistance is to determine how much wear each part in the process is receiving.
Some abrasion tests focus on the coating or varnish applied to a surface. These testers replicate usual wear and cleaning, then alert manufacturers to potential weaknesses due to scratching or even loss of color.
Some manufacturers turn to these tests when deciding on coatings for new or upgraded machinery. Others use them on a regular basis to see how resistance adjustments to a machine might be faring.
– What If Liquid Is Involved?
A great many manufacturing processes call for heavy use of liquids, which introduces an entirely different set of problems in abrasion resistance.
In this case, materials must not only be strong and resilient, but waterproof and rust resistant.
Testing surfaces is even more important for this scenario, and wet abrasion scrub tests are necessary. Wet abrasion scrub testing is also vital for manufacturing parts which are constantly cleaned.
While cleanliness is essential to maintaining machine efficiency, detergents, pressure washing, and scrubbing may contribute to wear and tear, making resistance all the more imperative.
1. Abrasion Resistance in Materials
Once a manufacturer understands how much daily stress each surface will encounter, it becomes easier to focus on which materials are best able to support resistance.
Alloys are popular abrasion resistant materials, as they can provide a base which is lightweight as well as strong.
A composite of two metals, alloys are often the result of a great deal of research and development.
Ultra-strong alloys are put into use in machines which do jobs that are by definition abrasion, such as sanders, grinders, and the edges of trowels.
Alloys are useful for other high stress work machines which must withstand heavy and repeated impacts, such as bulldozing or shaker pan conveyor belts.
Some popular abrasion resistant alloys include
- cast iron
- aluminum bronze
- stainless steel
Certain plastics are also abrasion resistant. Some can even withstand nuclear material.
Abrasion resistant plastic is light, waterproof, and, most importantly, eases friction. That means the manufacturing process can take place with reduced chance of scratching, rusting, or sticking.
Relying on plastic for abrasion resistance has another perk: It can act as an insulator.
Outside of making for a more pleasant work environment for employees, that means fewer vibrations from the machinery or the decibel level it produces, which in turn increases resistance.
Many people are surprised to hear that nylon is also abrasion resistant.
When applied industrially, nylon is far from the delicate pantyhose and stockings with which it’s most often associated.
Smooth and lightweight, this synthetic, when used in manufacturing, does not absorb moisture, is extremely strong, and can fend off damage from a wide array of chemicals, including petroleum.
2. Effective Lubricants
Proper lubrication is vital in manufacturing.
Enabling smooth operation between two parts which come into contact, as well as those which strike against fixed objects, is an essential matter when it comes to resistance.
Changing the lubricant and testing it for quality control can help manufactures ensure that it operates under a wide variety of conditions.
Some lubricants are not, as most might expect, old fashioned oils for industrial gears.
Biodegradable and environmentally friendly lubricants are currently fashionable in manufacturing. Lubricants are available as solids, as in the case of graphite and borates.
Abrasion resistance may also be provided by epoxies.
3. Abrasion Resistant Coatings
It’s not enough to simply fashion a manufacturing establishment with abrasion resistant materials which are then eased past one another with proper lubricants.
Covering surfaces with an abrasion resistant coating is also an effective way to cut down on friction.
Microscopic valleys, pits, and peaks may be present or slowly form on manufacturing surfaces. An abrasion resistant coating provides tiny padding between even seemingly smooth materials.
The right coating depends on if the equipment is outside or inside, exposed to high temperatures, or constantly in contact with corrosive chemicals or water.
A popular component of abrasion resistant coatings is PTFE, or polytetrafluoroethylene. It’s a synthetic polymer which is mostly made of carbon and fluorine.
PTFE is waterproof and highly resistant to friction. If PTFE sounds like an exotic manufacturing material seen only by privileged employees, bear in mind that you probably have some in your kitchen.
It’s best known in its commercial form as Teflon.
Abrasion resistant coatings are sometimes engineered specifically for a manufacturer’s needs, and may be applied a number of different ways, including thermal spraying and plating.
Abrasion resistance is essential for your compressors and manufacturing.
These three ways of improving resistance will ensure your manufacturing systems and processes work efficiently.
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