Tribology International 65 (2013) 295–302

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Effect of SiO2 and PTFE additives on dry sliding of NiP electroless coating
D. Gutsev a, M. Antonov b,n, I. Hussainova b, A.Ya. Grigoriev a
a b

Metal-Polymer Research Institute NASB, Gomel, Belarus Department of Materials Engineering, Tallinn University of Technology, 19086 Tallinn, Ehitajate tee 5, Estonia

a r t i c l e i n f o
Article history: Received 3 August 2012 Received in revised form 7 December 2012 Accepted 10 December 2012 Available online 8 January 2013 Keywords: NiP self-lubricating coating SiO2 and PTFE additives Dry sliding Coefficient of friction

The aim of the present work is to study the effect of silicon dioxide and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) additives on NiP coating performance under dry (unlubricated) conditions in unidirectional and reciprocating sliding modes in Ball-on-Flat configuration. Yttria-stabilized zirconia and chrome steel balls were used as counterbodies. Microstructural examination of specimens was conducted by a SEM with EDS. It was found that in contact with steel ball both additives were beneficial, while addition of SiO2 particles was detrimental for contact against ceramic ball. The highest improvement of tribological performance was obtained for NiP coated samples having PTFE or mixed additives. & 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction Nickel–based coatings are widely used in mechanical engineering, electronics and chemical industry because of their hardness, corrosion and wear resistance. Their stable coefficients of friction (COF) in vacuum and air as well as high electrical conductivity make them promising for various applications in many sectors of industry such as transport (air, sea and land), energy generation, and manufacturing [1–7]. The challenge arises to development of nanostructured coatings that benefit from the unique physical and tribological properties of functional layers and nanoparticles incorporated into their structures. Significant improvement in tribological characteristics of NiP coatings can be reached by introducing self lubricating agent. Nowadays, a successful application of fluopolymer nanofillers such as polytetrafluorethylen (PTFE), perfluoroalkoxy (PFA), fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP) and ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) for reduction wear losses and increase durability of the final product is of a great interest for industry. These fillers are found to increase plasticity of Ni-based matrix and prevent crystallisation of the coating at counterbodies contact spots where the flash temperature caused by frictional heating increases to a great extent. Electroless (chemical) deposition allows obtaining coatings of uniform thickness of any irregularly shaped surfaces made of either metallic or non-metallic materials. A process of deposition


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is based on oxidation–reduction reaction, when reducer is oxiÀ þ dised by H2PO4 and Ni2 ions are precipitated onto substrate surface [8,9]. Generally there is a linear relationship between a holding time (in bath) and a final coating thickness [9]. Co-plating of phosphorus (P) results in formation of nickel phosphide (NiP and Ni3P) enabling sufficient increase in hardness of a coating (up to 1000 HV) during heat treatment [10–12]. One of the current trends is a process of chemical codeposition of nickel added by hard (ceramic) particles such as SiC, B4C, Cr2C3, WC, BN, Si3N4, Al2O3, ZrO2, TiO2, K2Ti6O13, CeO2, SiO2, diamond [5,6,13–18] and carbon nanotubes; or solid lubricants such as PTFE, MoS2, WS2, graphite [4,5,19–25], etc. Incorporation of suitable additives results in increasing hardness and wear resistance as well as decreasing coefficient of friction of the coatings that allows service in dry conditions without additional lubricant. By co-depositing the PTFE particles, the hydrophobic coating with excellent anti-sticking performance, and lubricating ability can be obtained. According to authors knowledge the NiP coatings added by combined PTFE and SiO2 particles have not been studied yet. It is supposed that silicon dioxide particles impede dislocation movement and act as barriers to retard the plastic deformation of ductile Ni–P matrix and hence increase the microhardness while PTFE reduces the COF and increase a load bearing capacity. The aim of the present work is to study the effect of silicon dioxide and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) additives on NiP coating performance under dry sliding conditions in unidirectional and reciprocating mode in Ball-on-Flat configuration. The scanning method for the evaluation of the critical forces was applied to improve the differentiation among coatings.

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1. Phosphorus content in the NiP coating was 10 wt%.4 .6 7 1.4 7 0. EN10025).3 7 1.5 and 7. Gutsev et al.0 15.1 Rmax 12. electroless co-deposition processes of second phase particles take place at low temperature and the chemical interaction is not favoured between the particles and the matrix.2 1. [26].1 7 1.1.5 vol% SiO2 NiP–7. SEM images of surfaces of as-deposited coatings.1 10.7 6.3 4.1 1.2 13.0 wt% that resulted in the concentration of silicon dioxide in the coating equal to 4.4 7 0.1 13.4 7 3. 2.5 7 0.3 1.27].8 5. Thickness of the PTFE layer was nonuniform: it was larger at the place of initial position of the PTFE cluster and less between them (Fig.2 1. The particles are only physically entrapped into the Ni–P matrix. The specimens were prepared in size of 5 mm  15 mm  30 mm.296 D. Table 1 Properties of the coatings studied. In general. Concentration of SiO2 particles in the solution was held on the level of 1. Fig.4 10.5 7 1.8 7 1.4 and temperature 90–95 1C during 1 h.2 1.7 7 0. The coatings were tested as received without any surface modification. Materials and methods 2.7 7 1.5 7 0.2 7 5. The amount of the silicon dioxide was confirmed by EDS analysis of polished samples.5 9.4 8.2 7 0.6 7 0. 1) were deposited onto a mild carbon steel substrate (S235J2G3.5 8. The Fig.0 vol% SiO2 NiP–PTFE NiP–4.6 7 0.5 vol% SiO2–PTFE NiP–7.0 vol% SiO2–PTFE Steel substrate (S235J2G3) 6.1 3. Low-molecular fine-dispersed PTFE particles (size of a single particle was not exceeding 7 mm) were sprayed onto the base coating and melted at 340 1C during 1 h. / Tribology International 65 (2013) 295–302 2. The coatings (Fig. Coatings have been heat treated at 400 1C for 1 h [26.6 7 2.9 7 1.8 10.3 10.5 and 3.4 11.2 7 0.0 7 1.0 vol% respectively that is lower than reported in Ref.0 7 0. Coating Thickness (mm) Microhardness (HV0.1 – 812 7 125 849 7 204 946 7 345 543 7 63 50 7 148 593 7 139 232 7 12 1.7 7 5.8 7 1.3 7 3.0 Rz 10.8 13. Materials Composite NiP-based coatings with additions of SiO2 and/or PTFE were deposited using electroless nickel bath containing nanosized (5–20 nm) silicon dioxide (SiO2) particles (GOST 14922) at pH 4. Therefore heat treatment of these coatings is necessary to promote high hardness and improve wear resistance.7 7 0.6 7 0. Coatings compositions and their thicknesses are given in Table 1.2 1.05) Roughness parameters (mm) Ra NiP NiP–4. 1c and d).8 5.7 7 0. Schematic representation of NiP coating with SiO2 and PTFE (cross section).0 7 2.

7) 200 (6. N (g) Amplitude (m) Radius (circumference) of track (m) Frequency (Hz) Linear velocity. Parameter Configuration Ball-On-Plate Mode Ball diameter (m) Ball material Load. 3. min) Atmosphere n For determination of the COF used for tracing the critical force (Fig. plate is moving.2. relative humidity 45 7 5% Amplitude (m) Length of scan (plate movement) (m) Frequency (Hz) Feed i. sample movement rate. Gutsev et al.08 mm as well as steel balls (EN 100Cr6/ AISI 52100 bearing chrome steel) of hardness HV 848 (converted from HRC) and roughness Ra – 0.98 (100) 5 Â 10 À 3 – 5 0.050 5 (300n) 15 (900n) 3000 (180.000n) Air. Experimental details Microstructural examination of specimens was conducted by a scanning electron microscope (SEM) Zeiss EVO MA15 supplied with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) — INCA analyser and Hitachi TM-1000 scanning electron microscopes with EDS module.7) Not moving Air.92 (10–910) for coatings without PTFE 0. plate is coated Ball is reciprocating.5 N according to ISO 6507-2005. BAQ GmbH) with the help of optical microscope Zeiss Axiovert-25 according to EN1071. Main conditions of the testing are given in Tables 2 and 3.e. 23 7 2 1C.800 (426. Microhardness was determined with the help of Buehler Micromet-2001 device.98 . times Atmosphere n Ball-On-Disk unidirectional 3 Â 10 À 3 ZrO2 and EN 100Cr6 (AISI 52100) 0.033 60 120 3822 reciprocating 3 Â 10 À 3 ZrO2 and EN 100Cr6 (AISI 52100) 0. (m s À 1) Duration (min) Wear path length (m) Number of repetitive sliding events (motions) other the same point on the track. maximum and minimum values were ignored and the average of remaining five values is given in Table 1. Roughness of bodies was measured by Mahr perthometer PGK 120 in contact mode.D.7) 12. Table 3 Scanning test conditions to determine the critical load. Seven measurements of each coating were made. Measurements were done by Vickers diamond indenter using load of 0. 23 7 2 1C. High purity yttria-stabilized zirconia (95% ZrO2.4) Â 10 À 3 – 0. Ball of 20 mm in diameter was used with 5 mm diamond slurry.10–8. Load was 588.98 (100 . Determination of the critical force by scanning method (step 2). Coating thickness was determined by means of ball cratering method (kaloMAX. 2.10100) for PTFE containing coatings 0.7) 800 (26. Table 2 Sliding test conditions with constant load. .7) 3200 (106. Tribological sliding tests were done using CETR UMT-2 tribometer. cycles mm-1 (duration of test.49 (50)n 1 Â 10 À 3 10 Â 10 À 3 5 50 (1.98 (100) – 5 (31. 5% Y2O3) ceramic balls of hardness HV10 – 1250 and roughness Ra – 0.6 N (HRA). 3). / Tribology International 65 (2013) 295–302 297 schematic cross-sectional representation of the NiP coating with SiO2 and PTFE is depicted in Fig. relative humidity 45 7 5% Test with duration of 300 min was performed for NiP–PTFE coating to estimate the resistance and to monitor wear mechanism. force is increased 3 Â 10 À 3 EN 100Cr6 (AISI 52100) 0. 2.07 mm Fig. Feature/parameter Configuration Mode Ball diameter (m) Ball material Load. Values given in Table 1 are the average of three measurements. N (g) Description Ball-On-Plate.98. Zwick/Roell ZHR 8150 LK Rockwell hardness testing machine and optical microscope Zeiss Axiovert-25 were applied for assessment of coating adhesion to substrate according to CEN/TS 1071-8.

However. Fig. . 2) having different density. Fig. The feed rate is the number of reciprocative cycles done by specimen in X direction while it travels 1 mm in Y direction. NiP coatings. In addition to high roughness. High value of feed rate means that the velocity in Y direction is low and the time required to finish test is longer. The substrate and coating (NiP coating usually replicate the substrate roughness) were prepared to have roughness (Table 1) being high comparing to that in real applications (Ra ¼ 0. 3) similar to those used with another tribological devices [28. Evolution of coatings COF under constant load in reciprocative and unidirectional regimes with ZrO2 and 100Cr6 balls. / Tribology International 65 (2013) 295–302 Fig. The analysis of the second step results are done after the test.0 mm). The force corresponding to the COF that is 50% higher than the COF of the coating determined during the first step is assumed as a critical one. It is also noted by other researchers that NiP deposits are too thin for reliable wear rate measurements [4] even for much thicker coatings (35 mm [27]. 4. Gutsev et al. The second step is done to determine the maximum critical force that the coating is able to sustain. Coatings have generally better adhesion if they are deposited onto rough surface [4]. Scanning test was done only with the steel ball that is mostly used as counterbody for NiP coatings. Specimen is moving back and forward as during usual reciprocating test (along X axis. NiP. amplitude 1 mm. Fig.29] was applied instead to determine the critical load that may be carried by coating. The test comprises two steps. Fresh surface of coating was used for both steps. Fig. The first step is required to obtain COF of the coating in mild conditions with constant force of 0. The idea of the method is to move the coated specimen in two directions. 10 mm). 25–30 mm [26]). coating has a multilayer structure with phases (PTFE. Prolonged tests were carried out to monitor the wear mechanism. 5. The scanning test (Table 3. 3) while at the same time it is continuously and unidirectionally being moved to supply fresh coating into contact (along Y axis. At least 3 tests were performed and the average value is calculated. especially with PTFE additives are having excellent wear resistance and low COF and the tribological test to obtain reliable material loss data would be extremely time consuming.1–2. high roughness leads to generation of extreme stress concentration in the asperities under loading and may result in high wear and low load carrying capacity. Effect of lower specimen feeding rate on critical force for NiP–7 vol%SiO2– PTFE coating determined by scanning method. SiO2. The only difference between the steps is that during the second step the force is continuously increased from low to high level. COF and wear rate. were used.49 N (feed rate is 800 cycles mm À 1) to ensure that the coating is not damaged. PTFE is present only on the top of the coating and it is not reasonable to measure the mass or volume loss of such multilayer coating. Surfaces with high roughness are used much often since they are easier to produce and they are economically feasible. When the force is low enough the COF is similar to that observed during the first step. Frequency of reciprocation in X direction is same for all tests.298 D.

6. / Tribology International 65 (2013) 295–302 299 Fig. Gutsev et al. Results It is evident from Table 1 that there is an increase in the hardness values obtained due to the SiO2 particle reinforcement in the Ni–P matrix.D. Addition of PTFE droplets results in the lower hardness values as compared to untreated coatings (Table 1). Lower hardness values . It is known that fine precipitations create an additional barrier for the movement of dislocation to propagate. Coefficient of friction and critical forces of coatings tested by scanning method. 3.

g2. 4). The lowest critical force was observed during tests with slow movement of the sample in Y direction (high feed rate) when the contact between the side wall of wear crater and steel ball took place. Critical loads of silicon dioxide containing coatings may be improved only when supply of fresh coating surface is sufficient (Figs. Single radial cracks without adhesive delamination were characteristic for all coatings studied that corresponds to the Class 1 according to CEN/TS 1071-8 indicating good adhesion of the coatings to the substrate. Table 4) in all locations of PTFE containing coatings was sufficiently high indication that it is covering the whole surface. SEM images after testing of coatings by conventional (Fig. Wear mechanism in this case could be characterised by growing role of a brittle mode of fracture. e3. direct and fatigue . 4). Fig. b3. PTFE layers are appeared as the dim grey coloured areas (indicated by arrows). Table 4). d2. High stresses generated during the contact between ceramic counterbody and silicon dioxide leads to the rupture of the nickel oxide and PTFE film. 6). Coating with SiO2 has more uniform distribution of PTFE clusters (compare Fig. Coating with high content of SiO2 (NiP–7. Table 4) that indicates that highest peaks are already worn. It was found (by EDS) that grain boundaries have higher phosphorus content than grain interiors. There is significant dispersion of thickness measurement results that is associated with high roughness of initial substrates and deposited coatings (Table 1). Scuffing was observed only after failure of the coating when force was higher than critical for given coating. In conditions when wear debris are accumulated and are serving as solid lubricant (sample is not moving in Y direction) the sufficiently high critical force was measured. 7. silicon dioxide additions were beneficial to increase the hardness of the NiP and NiP– PTFE coatings. Addition of silicon dioxide was beneficial in reduction of the COF only in case of NiP–4. 7) and scanning method (Fig. Addition of PTFE enables to reduce the COF of coatings several times during conventional tests (Fig.5 vol% SiO2–PTFE coating. PTFE is transferred even to damaged surface of coating (e4. 1. 5. In the case of PTFE containing coatings the load is carried by PTFE clusters providing almost no wear for substrate and NiP (Fig. This can be explained by formation of the PTFE-rich mechanically mixed layer responsible for good antifriction properties (Figs. Table 1). However they are able to reduce the COF for NiP coating only with steel counterbody when tested under low loads (0. Mechanical mixing of components was observed (b4. d1. 6). COF of NiP–PTFE and NiP–SiO2–PTFE coatings was usually improved by additives comparing to the basic NiP coating. Addition of SiO2 to NiP is beneficial only when supply of fresh coating is sufficient (feed 800 cycles mm À 1). 7b). 4–8) [4. / Tribology International 65 (2013) 295–302 Fig. Fig. Fine wear debris (b4. Roughness of the deposit added by SiO2 is decreased while roughness of the deposit coated by PTFE is slightly increased. h2. Addition of silicon dioxide to the NiP– PTFE coating cannot significantly improve the load bearing capacity of the tribosystem. Discussion PTFE addition is beneficial if reduced COF and increased critical force are required. Critical forces of PTFE-containing coatings are order of magnitude higher than that of plain NiP or NiP with silicon dioxide additives. the SiO2 additives do not prevent the coating from the excessive wear. agglomerates having low adhesion with coating.7 vol%SiO2 coating) is favourable only when steel ball (100Cr6) is used. 4. g1.30]. c2. Table 4). 2). Critical forces for coatings determined with feed rate of 800. 5.0 vol% SiO2–PTFE coatings can also be attributed to lower thickness of these coatings and related increased influence of softer substrate during hardness measurement. Main mechanism of coatings degradation is adhesive and oxidative wear off at the contact points where high flash temperature is generated. Particles of wear debris (NiP and steel) were found to be embedded into the PTFE clusters (Fig. etc. j1–j3. 1. SiO2 may be required for long runs in real applications to provide a load-bearing capacity for protection of NiP–PTFE containing tribo-layer from shearing.800 cycles mm À 1 and when the sample was not moving in Y direction are given in Fig. Gutsev et al. When ceramic ball (ZrO2) with hardness exceeding that of the NiP–SiO2 coating is used. 12. Iron is present on the surface even after testing with low force (a1–a3. Table 4). Behaviour of coatings during scanning test was similar (comparing to conventional test results). Addition of SiO2 (NiP. g5. lower roughness and low level of porosity and other defects (outgrowths protruding above the surface. 7). generally resulting in higher value of critical force when sufficient supply of fresh coating material was enabled (low value of feed rate). Microstructure of NiP-based coatings is composed of characteristic globular shaped grains (Figs.98 N. 6. 4) and down to 37% when determined by scanning method (Fig. 1(d). Plain NiP has higher critical force when the sample is not moving or moving very slowly (high value of feed rate). Behaviour of the coatings in both modes (reciprocating and unidirectional sliding) is similar (Fig. of the samples with Ni–PTFE and NiP–7. f5.) as compared to base NiP coatings (Fig. Table 4) Rapid reduction of PTFE was observed after failure of coatings (f1–f5. Wear debris are more oxidised than initial coating. 1c and d).0 vol% SiO2) has slightly smaller size of grains. c3. Indeed.300 D. SEM image of NiP–PTFE coating after 300 min reciprocative test (extended duration). 8) with results of EDS analysis (Table 4) are showing that the highest peaks of NiP and later that of steel substrate material are first removed from the surface. PTFE clusters of NiP–SiO2––PTFE coating are shown in Fig. PTFE content (fluorine. Table 4) have higher content of oxygen than coarse ones (a3.

PTFE addition reduces coefficient of friction and increases load carrying capacity of NiP coating when rubbed against ceramic or steel counterbody. 8. SEM images of NiP. Similar significant reduction of wear resistance was also observed in the case of NiP–PTFE coating sliding in air and in nitrogen atmosphere [31] when the formation of nickel oxide layer was impeded. NiP–PTFE and NiP–7. . / Tribology International 65 (2013) 295–302 301 Fig.0 vol% SiO2–PTFE coatings after testing by scanning method with indication of force and locations where EDS analysis was performed (see also Table 4).D. 5. crashing and removal of the silicon dioxide that starts acting as an abrasive that in its turn leads to higher wear rates. Gutsev et al. Conclusions 1.

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