laser surface texture, limited lubricant supply, comb-tooth-shaped pattern, lubricant replenishment, friction coefficient


Effective oil replenishment to the lubrication track of a running bearing is crucial to its sustainable operation. Reliable practical solutions are rare despite numerous theoretical studies were conducted in the last few decades. This paper proposes the use of surface effect, wettability gradient, to achieve the goal. This method is simple and can be nicely implemented using femtosecond laser ablation. A periodic comb-tooth-shaped pattern with anisotropic wetting capability is devised and its effect on the anisotropic spreading behaviour of an oil droplet is studied. Results show that the comb-tooth-shaped pattern enables the rearrangement of oil distribution, thereby escalating oil replenishment to the lubrication track. The effect is due to the unbalanced interfacial force created by the surface pattern. The influence of the shape and the pitch of teeth, which are the two governing factors, on oil transport is also reported. The effects of the newly devised surface pattern on lubrication are experimentally evaluated under the conditions of limited lubricant supply. These results are promising, demonstrating the reduction in bearing friction and the increase in lubricating film thickness.

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