Deterministic micro asperities show potential for enhancement of lubrication in conformal contacts as found in many bearing and seal designs. Several manufacturing methods have been proposed for deterministic micro asperities. Of these, laser texturing has emerged as the most viable option. This paper proposes the LIGA MEMs manufacturing method as an alternative. Using LIGA, surfaces with patterned micron sized surface features of arbitrary cross section (cylindrical, hex, triangular, etc.) can be fabricated from electroplated nickel, gel-cast silicon nitride or plastic. The resulting asperities can be positive (protuberances) or negative (recesses) and can have heights (depths) from 1–1000 microns and be patterned over surface areas up to about 150 mm × 150 mm. In this paper, the LIGA method is used to fabricate a sample thrust bearing surface with a hexagonal array of positive asperities. The resulting asperities are 550 μm in average diameter, 165 μm in edge-to-edge spacing and have heights of 3–100μm. Surface metrology indicates sub-micron accuracy of form and 13 nm Ra roughness on the asperity tops (land). Tribology testing in a non-pressurized oil bath indicates full film conditions and shows a 14–22% reduction in friction coefficient for a thrust surface covered with the micro asperities. A model confirms the experimental trends and indicates the potential to further reduce the friction coefficient by about 60% through optimization of the asperity geometry and layout.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.