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Microindentation techniques and tribology research have traditionally been closely linked. Three aspects of their historical relationship are discussed: (1) the use of microindentations and scratches as indicators of small amounts of wear, (2) the characterization of candidate metal and alloy microstructures for wear applications, and (3) studies of microstructures that have been altered by various wear processes. Proper application of microindentation techniques can provide information beyond simply obtaining microindentation hardness numbers. For example, one can estimate mild wear losses, crystallographic texturing due to sliding, work hardening, and fine structure sizes below eroded surfaces, strength of transfer patches on severely worn surfaces, and the variation in contact conditions across a single wear scar. Many of these areas need to be explored in more extensive quantitative ways before the full power of microindentation methods in tribology can be utilized effectively. The author reviews several published studies as well as his recent work to illustrate future research opportunities.
friction, microhardness, microindentation hardness, metals, microstructure, tribology, wear, microindentation hardness testing
Materials research engineer, National Bureau of Standards, Gaithersburg, MD