New Laser-Based Process Significantly Reduces Friction

June 04, 1997

New York, N.Y., June 2, 1997 -- A laser-based process applied to interfacing metallic or ceramic surfaces has been found to reduce friction by as much as twenty percent. The surface-engineering process, developed by Surface Technologies (SurTech), a Technion Entrepreneurial Incubator Company, Haifa, Israel, involves the creation of tiny holes or pores on the touching surfaces of metal or ceramic components. When a lubricant is applied to the pock-marked surfaces, the pores act as tiny reservoirs which continuously lubricate the moving parts as well as reduce the surface areas in contact. The new process not only saves on material wear but allows engineers the option of using less costly materials. The system operates as a stand alone unit or a component of a C.N.C. machine, a numerically controlled computer.

Since heat-generating friction is a significant cause of wear and parts' breakdown, the new hydrodynamic engineering process significantly prolongs the life of machine parts. One of the prime applications for the new process is in engine design. When an engine starts, it takes a few moments for a lubricant to be fed between the piston and cylinder wall. As a result, heat is generated and bare metal parts slide against each other causing material fatigue and eventual breakdown.

According to one of the developers of the unique process, Prof. Izhak Etsion of the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel and Director of SurTech, "This process doesn't replace oils and lubricants, it compliments them. However, because the process significantly reduces the direct surface-to-surface contact between moving parts, it is now possible to use less expensive materials, such as aluminum, rather than more costly materials such as ceramics in designing certain high-performance engines."

In addition to the process' application in the automobile and aircraft industry, the engineering system will significantly increase performance while reducing cost in the design and manufacture of pistons, pumps, mechanical seals, cog wheels or any other lubricated mechanical components.

The Technion, Israel's premier scientific and technological center for applied research and education, is ranked among the leading science and technology universities in the world. The majority of Israel's engineers are Technion graduates, as are most of the founders and managers of its high-tech industries.

The Technion commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in communications, electronics, computer science, biotechnology, water-resource management, materials engineering, aerospace and medicine, among others. The university's 11,000 students and 700 faculty study and work in the Technion's 19 faculties and 30 research centers and institutes in Haifa.

The American Technion Society (ATS) is the university's support organization in the United States. Based in New York City, it is the leading American organization supporting higher education in Israel. The ATS has raised $600 million since its inception in 1940, half of that during the last six years. Technion societies are located in 24 countries around the world.

Note to Editors: Color and black-and-white photos are available.

American Society for Technion - Israel Institute of Technology

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