Feeds

Fraunhofer boffins tout new 'diamondballs' mech tech

Germans dip ball[bearing]s in liquid bling hardness

Intelligent flash storage arrays

German boffins at the famed Fraunhofer Institutes - developers of mp3 audio compression, among other things - are now working on another critical technology. To wit: bearings covered in ultrahard coatings of artificial diamond.

A plastic bearing cage, coated in artificial diamond by the Fraunhofer IWM

Slick as ice.

The remorselessly efficient brainboxes of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials (Institut Werkstoffmechanik, IWM) in Freiburg call their new gemstone-dip DLC, for Diamond Like Coating.

"Thanks to this coating, we can produce components that are much more robust than conventional elements," says IWM's Dr Sven Meier. "The coated bearings remain sturdy even if they are not sufficiently lubricated or if they run dry... Our coating method is also suitable for geometrically complex parts, such as bearing cages."

Makers of fancy mechanical watches have long used bearings made from jewels, in modern times often artificial sapphire - but diamond has been used too. The idea here is to reduce friction and so make the watch more accurate as much as to increase the bearings' life. That application, however, is becoming more and more irrelevant in an era where much more accurate quartz watches are cheap - and mobile phones can often read sat nav or internet time signals.

But the Fraunhofer lads are aiming at much wider application. They can already coat individual plastic ball-bearings in a sphere of hard, tough diamond as much as 0.02 millimetres in thickness: and they reckon to apply their process to other materials soon. The IWM statement mentions "bicycles, slide bearings in the crankshafts of ships, or high-performance bearings in motor sports".

They do admit, however, that at the moment the "precious coatings" involve "high costs". It would seem that for now a diamondball-bearing, while better than a soft golden one, might cost at least as much. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?
How artificial lighting could offer an artificial promise
NASA eyeballs SOLAR HEAT BOMBS, MINI-TORNADOES and NANOFLARES on Sun
Astro boffins probe fiery star's hidden depths
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.