Feeds

Fraunhofer boffins tout new 'diamondballs' mech tech

Germans dip ball[bearing]s in liquid bling hardness

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.