Air Force

High-performance coating deposition processes

Durable bonding of solid film lubricants


In one application, a solid film lubricant protects the hanger when the munition is attached to an aircraft.

Solid film lubricants provide lubrication and wear protection in a broad range of industries and applications, specifically in harsh environments where conventional liquid or grease-based lubricants cannot be used. The limiting factor of solid film lubricants has often been poor adhesion. Historically, parts had to be roughened by blasting or binders and solvents had to be used with oven-bake procedures, all resulting in marginal adhesion of the solid film lubricant to the substrate. An alternate method has been to use vacuum plasma-based technologies with high expense, process complexity, and limitation on part size.

Air Force researchers have developed a novel method that provides durable adhesion of solid film lubricants. A synergistic effect is achieved by creating low friction, low wear and a long life. The burnished Sb2Otechnique is fast, environmentally friendly, and scalable. The burnished lubricant is as effective, or more so, than PVD or CVD lubricant coatings at a significant cost savings. The process is as follows:

  • Surface of the substrate is properly cleaned of contaminants
  • The clean surface may be further activated as appropriate: acid treatment for metals and ceramics, plasma treatment for composites and plastics
  • A thin layer of a soft oxide material like Sb2Ois burnished onto the surface in a uniform film
  • The solid film lubricant is then deposited on top of the soft oxide bond layer
  • The solid film lubricant can be molybdenum disulfide, dichalcogenides, oxides, boron nitride, calcium fluoride, graphite, or mixtures of these, as well as performance-enhancing additives, PTFE, or any other friction-reducing material

This US patent 9,475,089 is related to US patent 8,637,162.

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