Feeds

Fraunhofer boffins tout new 'diamondballs' mech tech

Germans dip ball[bearing]s in liquid bling hardness

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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?