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Ceramic Machining


The Tribology User Center (TRUC) is one of six User Centers in the High Temperature Materials Laboratory (HTML). Located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the HTML is part of the Materials Science & Technology Division at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Our mission is to provide our customers the best available equipment, facilities and staff for applied research on manufacturability of ceramic and other difficult-to-machine materials in a collaborative environment.

Our vision is to be the nationally recognized facility of choice for performing research and development in machining, inspection, and tribology of ceramics and other high performance materials. We will strive to delight our guest researchers with the responsiveness of our staff and the quality of results achieved at our facility.


Machining Equipment

Five different types of numerically controlled grinders are available to our guest researchers for their research projects at the Machining and Inspection Research User Center. The grinders were selected for their similarity to those used in manufacturing facilities throughout the United States.

Instrumentation has been added to permit real-time measurement of key grinding process parameters including grinding forces, spindle horsepower, spindle vibration, acoustic emission coolant temperature. Data may be collected, displayed, stored and analyzed using specialized Labview programs and other analysis software.

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Check out our new Grinding Information pages for grinding calculators.

Inspection Equipment

The Tribology Research User Center maintains state-of-the-art dimensional and surface texture measuring equipment for use by our guest researchers during their visits to the High Temperature Materials Lab. Our highly qualified technical staff is available to assist researchers in the operation of the more complex equipment, such as the coordinate measuring machine (CMM). The CMM is actually an integrated metrology center with multiple inspection sensors.

Other inspection capabilities include contact and non-contact surface topography measurement; a non-contact, mini-moiré sensor; two optical comparators; and a form tester. Inspection equipment is computer controlled, and inspection data can be easily exported to advanced analysis software and CAD/CAM software using a laboratory-wide network.

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Tribology (Friction, Lubrication and Wear Analysis) Test Systems

Tribology comprises the science and technology of interacting surfaces in relative motion; that is, friction, lubrication and wear. Tribology is a vast and interdisciplinary subject, ranging from the fundamental physics of surface contact and adhesion to the application of advanced materials and lubricants to solve practical industrial friction and wear problems.

ORNL has been involved with tribology since the early 1980's when an ASME study* indicated that energy savings through tribology research and development in road transportation, power generation, turbomachinery, and industrial machinery and processes could well exceed $21,000,000,000 per year (in 1981 dollars). Throughout history, tribology has been driven by the needs of transportation technology, and ORNL's earliest ground-breaking work involved evaluating the potential for using advanced structural ceramics as wear parts in energy-efficient engines. Since then ORNL has become a recognized leader in the friction and wear characterization of ceramic composites, intermetallic alloys and advanced ceramics.

Physical testing and material analysis constitute a major portion of the work in our tribology laboratory. Experiments are designed to screen materials, effect simulations of components, or study the basic relationships between the microstructures and compositions of surfaces and their friction and wear behavior. There are three types of machines in our laboratory: (1) commercially developed testing machines, (2) machines designed under subcontract and (3) machines designed and built by us for special purposes. Most of the testing machines are aimed at sliding wear, but we can also perform abrasive wear, impact wear and rolling-contact wear tests if needed. Tribology testing at high temperatures and controlled atmospheres is within our capabilities.

*Strategy for Energy Conservation Through Tribology, 2nd ed., American Society for Mechanical Engineers, New York, 1981

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Contact: Peter J. Blau


 Oak Ridge National Laboratory