Boundary Lubrication Failure Case Study - Whitford Worldwide
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Boundary lubrication failure

When equipment is started and stopped frequently, oil films tend to become too thin to function as effective lubricants and bring sliding metal surfaces almost into contact (a condition known as "boundary lubrication"). If metal-to-metal contact occurs, the condition becomes "boundary lubrication failure".


A thin coating of Xylan reduces the chance of failure and lengthens the life of such products as sprockets, seal plates for compressors, pump pistons, cams, ball joints, conveyor trolleys, gears, journal bearings — even though the anticipated PV limit of the application is far greater than the coating can endure.


These coatings solved wear problems under start/stop conditions in reciprocating plungers in electrical solenoids. Typical plungers are chrome-plated (and extremely hard). But the starting and stopping at the end of each half-cycle put the plunger into boundary-lubrication failure, causing the plating to wear rapidly. When a Xylan matrix coating replaced chrome plating, boundary-lubrication failure was overcome and plunger life was extended by 90 percent.


A maker of chain saws uses Xylan 1010 as a fail-safe lubricant on the cage of the saw's main bearing. Clearance between the cage and connecting rod is only 100 to 150 microns/0.004 to 0.006 in. When the engine started, the bearing was in boundary lubrication. Without the coating, it tended to seize. As proof of the coating's ruggedness, these engines run eight hours per day and have a life expectancy of three years.


A PTFE-type Xylan coating is recommended for applications where initial wear is anticipated to be light to moderate; a moly-type coating is recommended for conditions of heavy wear, especially in high-load situations.


The two-part roller-bearing cage, once coated with Xylan 1014, moved smoothly, easily and consistently.

The two-part roller-bearing cage,

once coated with Xylan 1014,

moved smoothly, easily and consistently.


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