Feeds

Fraunhofer boffins tout new 'diamondballs' mech tech

Germans dip ball[bearing]s in liquid bling hardness

The next step in data security

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
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.