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Friction Evaluation at Extreme Low Speeds

Importance of Friction Evaluation at Low Speeds

Friction is the force that resists the relative motion of solid surfaces sliding against each other. When the relative motion of these two contact surfaces takes place, the friction at the interface converts the kinetic energy into heat. Such a process can also lead to wear of the material and thus performance degradation of the parts in use.
With a large stretch ratio, high resilience, as well as great waterproof properties and wear resistance, rubber is extensively applied in a variety of applications and products in which friction plays an important role, such as automobile tires, windshield wiper blades. shoe soles and many others. Depending on the nature and requirement of these applications, either high or low friction against different material is desired. As a consequence, a controlled and reliable measurement of friction of rubber against various surfaces becomes critical.

Measurement Objective

The coefficient of friction (COF) of rubber against different materials is measured in a controlled and monitored manner using the Nanovea Tribometer. In this study, we would like to showcase the capacity of Nanovea Tribometer for measuring the COF of different materials at extremely low speeds.

Results and Discussion

The coefficient of friction (COF) of rubber balls (6 mm dia., RubberMill) on three materials (Stainless steel SS 316, Cu 110 and optional Acrylic) was evaluated by Nanovea Tribometer. The tested metal samples were mechanically polished to a mirror-like surface finish before the measurement. The slight deformation of the rubber ball under the applied normal load created an area contact, which also helps to reduce the impact of asperities or inhomogeneity of sample surface finish to the COF measurements. The test parameters are summarized in Table 1.


The COF of a rubber ball against different materials at four different speeds is shown in Figure. 2, and the average COFs calculated automatically by the software are summarized and compared in Figure 3. It is interesting that the metal samples (SS 316 and Cu 110) exhibit significantly increased COFs as the rotational speed increases from a very low value of 0.01 rpm to 5 rpm -the COF value of the rubber/SS 316 couple increases from 0.29 to 0.8, and from 0.65 to 1.1 for the rubber/Cu 110 couple. This finding is in agreement with the results reported from several laboratories. As proposed by Grosch4 the friction of rubber is mainly determined by two mechanisms: (1) the adhesion between rubber and the other material, and (2) the energy losses due to the deformation of the rubber caused by surface asperities. Schallamach5 observed waves of detachment of rubber from the counter material across the interface between soft rubber spheres and a hard surface. The force for rubber to peel from the substrate surface and rate of waves of detachment can explain the different friction at different speeds during the test.

In comparison, the rubber/acrylic material couple exhibits high COF at different rotational speeds. The COF value slightly increases from ~ 1.02 to ~ 1.09 as the rotational speed increases from 0.01 rpm to 5 rpm. Such high COF is possibly attributed to stronger local chemical bonding at the contact face formed during the tests.





In this study, we show that at extremely low speeds, the rubber exhibits a peculiar frictional behavior – its friction against a hard surface increases with the increased speed of the relative movement. Rubber shows different friction when it slides on different materials. Nanovea Tribometer can evaluate the frictional properties of materials in a controlled and monitored manner at different speeds, allowing users to improve fundamental understanding of the friction mechanism of the materials and select the best material couple for targeted tribological engineering applications.

Nanovea Tribometer offers precise and repeatable wear and friction testing using ISO and ASTM compliant rotative and linear modes, with optional high-temperature wear, lubrication and tribo-corrosion modules available in one pre-integrated system. It is capable of controlling the rotational stage at extremely low speeds down to 0.01 rpm and monitor the evolution of friction in situ. Nanovea’s unmatched range is an ideal solution for determining the full range of tribological properties of thin or thick, soft or hard coatings, films, and substrates.

Learn more about all the features our Nanovea Tribometer offers.

Tribology of Polymers

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Polymers have been used extensively in a wide variety of applications and have become an indispensable part of everyday life. Natural polymers such as amber, silk, and natural rubber have played an essential role in human history. The fabrication process of synthetic polymers can be optimized to achieve unique physical properties such as toughness, viscoelasticity, self-lubrication, and many others.

Importance of Wear and Friction of Polymers

Polymers are commonly used for tribological applications, such as tires, bearings, and conveyor belts.
Different wear mechanisms occur depending on the mechanical properties of the polymer, the contact conditions, and the properties of the debris or transfer film formed during the wear process. To ensure that the polymers possess sufficient wear resistance under the service conditions, reliable and quantifiable tribological evaluation is necessary. Tribological evaluation allows us to quantitatively compare the wear behaviors of different polymers in a controlled and monitored manner to select the material candidate for the target application.

The Nanovea Tribometer offers repeatable wear and friction testing using ISO and ASTM compliant rotative and linear modes, with optional high-temperature wear and lubrication modules available in one pre-integrated system. This unmatched range allows users to simulate the different work environments of the polymers including concentrated stress, wear, and high temperature, etc.


In this study, we showcased that the Nanovea Tribometer is an ideal tool for comparing the friction and wear resistance of different polymers in a well-controlled and quantitative manner.



The coefficient of friction (COF) and the wear resistance of different common polymers were evaluated by the Nanovea Tribometer. An Al2O3 ball was used as the counter material (pin, static sample). The wear tracks on the polymers (dynamic rotating samples) were measured using a non-contact 3D profilometer and optical microscope after the tests concluded. It should be noted that a non-contact endoscopic sensor can be used to measure the depth the pin penetrates the dynamic sample during a wear test as an option. The test parameters are summarized in Table 1. The wear rate, K, was evaluated using the formula K=Vl(Fxs), where V is the worn volume, F is the normal load, and s is the sliding distance.

Please note that Al2O3 balls were used as the counter material in this study. Any solid material can be substituted to more closely simulate the performance of two specimens under actual application conditions.


Wear rate is a vital factor for determining the service lifetime of the materials, while the friction plays a critical role during the tribological applications. Figure 2 compares the evolution of the COF for different polymers against the Al2O3 ball during the wear tests. COF works as an indicator of when failures occur and the wear process enters a new stage. Among the tested polymers, HDPE maintains the lowest constant COF of ~0.15 throughout the wear test. The smooth COF implies that a stable tribo-contact is formed.

Figure 3 and Figure 4 compare the wear tracks of the polymer samples after the test is measured by the optical microscope. The In-situ non-contact 3D profilometer precisely determines the wear volume of the polymer samples, making it possible to accurately calculate wear rates of 0.0029, 0.0020, and 0.0032m3/N m, respectively. In comparison, the CPVC sample shows the highest wear rate of 0.1121m3/N m. Deep parallel wear scars are present in the wear track of CPVC.


The wear resistance of the polymers plays a vital role in their service performance. In this study, we showcased that the Nanovea Tribometer evaluates the coefficient of friction and wear rate of different polymers in a
well-controlled and quantitative manner. HDPE shows the lowest COF of ~0.15 among the tested polymers. HDPE, Nylon 66, and Polypropylene samples possess low wear rates of 0.0029, 0.0020 and 0.0032 m3/N m, respectively. The combination of low friction and great wear resistance makes HDPE a good candidate for polymer tribological applications.

The In-situ non-contact 3D profilometer enables precise wear volume measurement and offers a tool to analyze the detailed morphology of the wear tracks, providing more insight into the fundamental understanding of wear mechanisms


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Honeycomb Panel Surface Finish with 3D Profilometry

Roughness, porosity, and texture of the honeycomb panel surface are critical to quantify for the final panel design. These surface qualities can directly correlate to the aesthetics and functional characteristics of the panel surface. A better understanding of the surface texture and porosity can help optimize the panel surface processing and manufacturability. A quantitative, precise, and reliable surface measurement of the honeycomb panel is needed to control surface parameters for application and painting requirements. The Nanovea 3D Non-Contact sensors utilize unique chromatic confocal technology capable of precisely measuring these panel surfaces.

In this study, the Nanovea HS2000 platform equipped with a high-speed Line Sensor was used to measure and compare two honeycomb panels with different surface finishes. We showcase the Nanovea non-contact profilometer’s ability to provide fast and precise 3D profiling measurements and comprehensive in-depth analysis of the surface finish.

The surface of two honeycomb panel samples with varied surface finishes, namely Sample 1 and Sample 2, were measured. The false color and 3D view of the Samples 1 and 2 surfaces are shown in Figure 3 and Figure 4, respectively. The roughness and flatness values were calculated by advanced analysis software and are compared in Table 1. Sample 2 exhibits a more porous surface compared to Sample 1. As a result, Sample 2 possesses a higher roughness Sa of 14.7 µm, compared to an Sa value of 4.27 µm for Sample 1.
The 2D profiles of the honeycomb panel surfaces were compared in Figure 5, allowing users to have a visual comparison of the height change at different locations of the sample surface. We can observe that Sample 1 has a height variation of ~25 µm between the highest peak and lowest valley location. On the other hand, Sample 2 shows several deep pores across the 2D profile. The advanced analysis software has the ability to automatically locate and measure the depth of six relatively deep pores as shown in the table of Figure 4.b Sample 2. The deepest pore amongst the six possesses a maximum depth of nearly 90 µm (Step 4).
To further investigate the pore size and distribution of Sample 2, porosity evaluation was performed and discussed in the following section. The sliced view is displayed in Figure 5 and the results are summarized in Table 2. We can observe that the pores, marked in blue color in Figure 5, have a relatively homogeneous distribution on the sample surface. The projected area of the pores constitutes 18.9% of the whole sample surface. The volume per mm² of the total pores is ~0.06 mm³. The pores have an average depth of 42.2 µm, and the maximum depth is 108.1 µm.


In this application, we have showcased that the Nanovea HS2000 platform equipped with a high-speed Line Sensor is an ideal tool for analyzing and comparing the surface finish of honeycomb panel samples in a fast and accurate manner. The high-resolution profilometry scans paired with an advanced analysis software allow for a comprehensive and quantitative evaluation of the surface finish of honeycomb panel samples. The data shown here represents only a small portion of the calculations available in the analysis software. Nanovea Profilometers measure virtually any surface for a wide range of applications in the Semiconductor, Microelectronic, Solar, Fiber Optics, Automotive, Aerospace, Metallurgy, Machining, Coatings, Pharmaceutical, Biomedical, Environmental and many other industries.

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Stress Relaxation Measurement using Nanoindentation

INTRODUCTION Viscoelastic materials are characterized as having both viscous and elastic material properties. These materials are subject to time-dependent stress decrease (stress ‘relaxation’) under constant strain, leading to a significant loss of initial contact force. Stress relaxation is dependent on the type of material, texture, temperature, initial stress, and time. Understanding stress relaxation is critical in selecting optimal materials that have the strength and flexibility (relaxation) required for specific applications. Importance of Stress Relaxation Measurement

As per ASTM E328i, “Standard Test Methods for Stress Relaxation for Materials and Structures”, an external force is initially applied on a material or structure with an indenter until it reaches a predetermined maximum force. Once the maximum force is reached, the position of the indenter is held constant at this depth. Then the change in external force necessary to maintain the indenter’s position is measured as a function of time. The difficulty in stress relaxation testing is maintaining the depth constant. The Nanovea Mechanical Tester’s nanoindentation module accurately measures the stress relaxation by applying a closed (feedback) loop control of the depth with a piezo-electric actuator. The actuator reacts in real-time to keep the depth constant, while the change in load is measured and recorded by a highly sensitive load sensor. This test can be performed on virtually all types of materials without the need for stringent sample dimension requirements. Additionally, multiple tests can be performed on a single flat sample to ensure test repeatability MEASUREMENT OBJECTIVE In this application, the Nanovea Mechanical Tester’s nanoindentation module measures the stress relaxation behavior of an acrylic and copper sample. We showcase that the Nanovea Mechanical Tester is an ideal tool for evaluating the time-dependent viscoelastic behavior of polymer and metal materials. TEST CONDITIONS The stress relaxation of an acrylic and a copper sample was measured by the Nanovea Mechanical Tester’s nanoindentation module. Different indentation loading rates were applied ranging from 1 to 10 µm/min. The relaxation was measured at a fixed depth once the target maximum load was reached. A 100 second holding period was implemented at a fixed depth and the change in load was recorded as the holding time elapsed. All of the tests were conducted at ambient conditions (room temperature of 23 °C) and the indentation test parameters are summarized in Table 1. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Figure 2 shows the evolution of displacement and load as a function of time during the stress relaxation measurement of an acrylic sample and an indentation loading rate of 3 µm/min as an example. The entirety of this test can be broken down into three stages: Loading, Relaxation and Unloading. During the Loading stage, the depth linearly increased as the load progressively increased. The Relaxation stage was initiated once the maximum load was reached. During this stage a constant depth was maintained for 100 seconds by using the closed feedback loop depth control feature of the instrument and it was observed that the load decreased over time. The entire test concluded with an unloading stage in order to remove the indenter from the acrylic sample.

Additional indentation tests were conducted using the same indenter loading rates but excluding a relaxation (creep) period. Load vs. displacement plots were acquired from these tests and were combined in the graphs in Figure 3 for the acrylic and copper samples. As the indenter loading rate decreased from 10 to 1 µm/min, the load-displacement curve shifted progressively towards higher penetration depths for both Acrylic and Copper. Such a time-dependent increase in strain results from the viscoelastic creep effect of the materials. A lower loading rate allows a viscoelastic material to have more time to react to the external stress it experiences and to deform accordingly..

The evolution of load at a constant strain using different indentation loading rates were plotted in Figure 4 for both materials tested. The load decreased at a higher rate in the early stages of the relaxation stage (100 second hold period) of the tests and slowed down once the hold time reached ~50 seconds. Viscoelastic materials, such as polymers and metals, exhibit greater load loss rate when they are subjected to higher indentation loading rates. The load loss rate during relaxation increased from 51.5 to 103.2 mN for Acrylic, and from 15.0 to 27.4 mN for Copper, respectively, as the indentation loading rate increased from 1 to 10 µm/min, as summarized in Figure 5.

As mentioned In ASTM Standard E328ii, the major problem encountered in stress relaxation tests is an instrument’s inability of maintaining a constant strain/depth. The Nanovea Mechanical Tester provides excellent accurate stress relaxation measurements due to its ability to apply a closed feedback loop control of the depth between the fast acting piezo-electric actuator and the independent capacitor depth sensor. During the relaxation stage, the piezo-electric actuator adjusts the indenter to maintain its constant depth constraint in real-time while the change in load is measured and recorded by an independent high precision load sensor. CONCLUSION The stress relaxation of an acrylic and a copper sample were measured using the nanoindentation module of the Nanovea Mechanical Tester at different loading rates. A greater maximum depth is reached when indentations are performed at lower loading rates due to the creep effect of the material during loading. Both the acrylic and the copper sample exhibit stress relaxation behavior when the indenter position at a targeted maximum load is held constant. Larger changes in load loss during the relaxation stage were observed for the tests with higher indentation loading rates. The stress relaxation test produced by the Nanovea Mechanical Tester showcase the instruments ability to quantify and reliably measure the time-dependent viscoelastic behavior of polymer and metal materials. It has an unmatched multi-function Nano and Micro modules on a single platform. Humidity and temperature control modules can be paired with these instruments for environmental testing capabilities applicable to a wide range of industries. Both the Nano and Micro modules include scratch testing, hardness testing, and wear testing modes, providing the widest and most user-friendly range of mechanical testing capabilities available on a single system.

Learn more about all the features our Nanovea Mechanical Tester offers.

Understanding Coating Failures using Scratch Testing


Surface engineering of materials plays a significant role in a variety of functional applications, ranging from decorative appearance to protecting the substrates from wear, corrosion and other forms of attacks. An important and overriding factor that determines the quality and service lifetime of the coatings is their cohesive and adhesive strength.

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High Speed Scanning w/ Non-contact Profilometry


Quick and easy set-up surface measurements save time, effort and are essential for quality control, research and development and production facilities. The Nanovea Non-Contact Profilometer is capable of performing both 3D & 2D surface scans to measure nano to macro scale features on any surface, providing broad range usability.

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Continuous Stribeck Curve Measurement using Pin-on-Disk Tribometer


When lubrication is applied to reduce the wear/friction of moving surfaces, the lubrication contact at the interface can shift from several regimes such as Boundary, Mixed and Hydrodynamic Lubrication. The thickness of the fluid film plays a major role in this process, mainly determined by the fluid viscosity, the load applied at the interface and the relative speed between the two surfaces. How the lubrication regimes react to friction is shown in what is called a Stribeck [1-4] curve.

In this study we demonstrate for the first time the ability to measure a continuous Stribeck Curve. Using the Nanovea Tribometer advanced step-less speed control, from 15000 to 0.01 rpm, within 10 minutes the software directly provides a complete Stribeck Curve. The simple initial setup only requires users to select the Exponential Ramp Mode and enter initial and final speeds, rather than having to perform multiple tests or program a stepwise procedure at different speeds requiring data stitching for the conventional Stribeck curve measurements. This advancement provides precise data throughout lubricant regime evaluation and substantially reduces time and cost. The test shows a great potential to be used in different industrial engineering applications.


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Surface Roughness and Features of a Solar Cell

Importance of Solar Panel Testing

Maximizing a solar cell’s energy absorption is key for the technology’s survival as a renewable resource. The multiple layers of coating and glass protection allow for the absorption, transmittance, and reflection of light that is necessary for the photovoltaic cells to function. Given that most consumer solar cells operate at 15-18% efficiency, optimizing their energy output is an ongoing battle.

Studies have shown that surface roughness plays a pivotal role in the reflectance of light. The initial layer of glass must be as smooth as possible to mitigate reflectance of light, but the subsequent layers do not follow this guideline. A degree of roughness is necessary at each coatings interface to another to increase the possibility of light scattering within their respective depletion zones and increase the absorption of light within the cell1. Optimizing the surface roughness in these regions allows the solar cell to operate to the best of its ability and with the Nanovea HS2000 High Speed Sensor, measuring surface roughness can be done quickly and accurately.

Measurement Objective

In this study we will display the capabilities of the Nanovea HS2000 High Speed Sensor by measuring the surface roughness and geometric features of a photovoltaic cell. For this demonstration a monocrystalline solar cell with no glass protection will be measured but the methodology can be used for various other applications.

Test Procedure and Procedures

The following test parameters were used to measure the surface of the solar cell.

Results and Discussion

Depicted below is the 2D false-color view of the solar cell and an area extraction of the surface with its respective height parameters. A Gaussian filter was applied to both surfaces and a more aggressive index was used to flatten the extracted area. This excludes form (or waviness) larger than the cut-off index, leaving behind features that represent the solar cell’s roughness.

A profile was taken perpendicular to the orientation of the gridlines to measure their geometric characteristics which is shown below. The gridline width, step height, and pitch can be measured for any specific location on the solar cell.


In this study we were able to display the Nanovea HS2000 Line Sensor’s ability to measure a monocrystalline photovoltaic cell’s surface roughness and features. With the ability to automate accurate measurements of multiple samples and set pass fail limits, the Nanovea HS2000 Line Sensor is a perfect choice for quality control inspections.


1 Scholtz, Lubomir. Ladanyi, Libor. Mullerova, Jarmila. “Influence of Surface Roughness on Optical Characteristics of Multilayer Solar Cells “ Advances in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, vol. 12, no. 6, 2014, pp. 631-638.

Scratch Resistance of Cellphone Screen Protectors

Importance of Testing Screen Protectors

Although phone screens are designed to resist shattering and scratching, they are still susceptible to damage. Daily phone usage causes them to wear and tear, e.g. accumulate scratches and cracks. Since repairing these screens can be expensive, screen protectors are an affordable damage prevention item commonly purchased and used to increase a screen’s durability.

Using the Nanovea PB1000 Mechanical Tester’s Macro Module in conjunction with the acoustic emissions (AE) sensor, we can clearly identify critical loads at which screen protectors show failure due to scratch1 testing to create a comparative study between two types of screen protectors.

Two common types of screen protector materials are TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) and tempered glass. Of the two, tempered glass is considered the best as it provides better impact and scratch protection. However, it is also the most expensive. TPU screen protectors on the other hand, are less expensive and a popular choice for consumers who prefer plastic screen protectors. Since screen protectors are designed to absorb scratches and impacts and are usually made of materials with brittle properties, controlled scratch testing paired with in-situ AE detection is an optimal test setup for determining the loads at which cohesive failures (e.g. cracking, chipping and fracture) and/or adhesive failures (e.g. delamination and spallation) occur.

Measurement Objective

In this study, three scratch tests were performed on two different commercial screen protectors using Nanovea’s PB1000 Mechanical Tester’s Macro Module. By using an acoustic emissions sensor and optical microscope, the critical loads at which each screen protector showed failure(s) were identified.

Test Procedure and Procedures

The Nanovea PB1000 Mechanical Tester was used to test two screen protectors applied onto a phone screen and clamped down to a friction sensor table. The test parameters for all scratches are tabulated in Table 1 below.

Results and Discussion

Because the screen protectors were made of a different material, they each exhibited varying types of failures. Only one critical failure was observed for the TPU screen protector whereas the tempered glass screen protector exhibited two. The results for each sample are shown in Table 2 below. Critical load #1 is defined as the load at which the screen protectors started to show signs of cohesive failure under the microscope. Critical load #2 is defined by the first peak change seen in the acoustic emissions graph data.

For the TPU screen protector, Critical load #2 correlates to the location along with the scratch where the protector began to visibly peel off the phone screen. A scratch appeared on the surface of the phone screen once Critical load #2 was surpassed for the remainder of the scratch tests. For the Tempered Glass screen protector, Critical load #1 correlates to the location where radial fractures began to appear. Critical load #2 happens towards the end of the scratch at higher loads. The acoustic emission is a larger magnitude than the TPU screen protector, however, no damage was done to the phone screen. In both cases, Critical load #2 corresponded to a large change in depth, indicating the indenter had pierced through the screen protector.


In this study we showcase the Nanovea PB1000 Mechanical Tester’s ability to perform controlled and repeat-able scratch tests and simultaneously use acoustic emission detection to accurately identify the loads at which adhesive and cohesive failure occur in screen protectors made of TPU and tempered glass. The experimental data presented in this document supports the initial assumption that Tempered Glass performs the best for scratch prevention on phone screens.

The Nanovea Mechanical Tester offers accurate and repeatable indentation, scratch, and wear measurement capabilities using ISO and ASTM compliant Nano and Micro modules. The Mechanical Tester is a complete system, making it the ideal solution for determining the full range of mechanical properties of thin or thick, soft or hard coatings, films, and substrates.

Lubricating Eye Drop Comparison using the Nanovea T50 Tribometer

Importance of Testing Eye Drop Solutions

Eye drop solutions are used to alleviate symptoms caused by a range of eye problems. For example, they can be used to treat minor eye irritation (e.g. dryness and redness), delay the onset of glaucoma or treat infections. Eye drop solutions sold over-the-counter are mainly used to treat dryness. Their effectiveness in lubricating the eye can be compared and measured with a coefficient of friction test.
Dry eyes can be caused by a wide range of factors, for example, computer eye strain or being outdoors in extreme weather conditions. Good lubricating eye drops help maintain and supplement the moisture on the outer surface of the eyes. This works to alleviate the discomfort, burning or irritation and redness associated with dry eyes. By measuring the coefficient of friction (COF) of an eye drop solution, its lubricating efficiency and how it compares to other solutions can be determined.


Measurement Objective

In this study, the coefficient of friction (COF) of three different lubricating eye drop solutions was measured using the pin-on-disk setup on the Nanovea T50 Tribometer.

Test Procedure and Procedures

A 6mm diameter spherical pin made of alumina was applied to a glass slide with each eye drop solution acting as the lubricant between the two surfaces. The test parameters used for all experiments are summarized in Table 1 below.

Results and Discussion

The maximum, minimum, and average coefficient of friction values for the three different eye drop solutions tested are tabulated in Table 2 below. The COF v. Revolutions graphs for each eye drop solution are depicted in Figures 2-4. The COF during each test remained relatively constant for most of the total test duration. Sample A had the lowest average COF indicating it had the best lubrication properties.



In this study we showcase the capability of the Nanovea T50 Tribometer in measuring the coefficient of friction of three eye drop solutions. Based on these values, we show that Sample A had a lower coefficient of friction and therefore exhibits better lubrication in comparison to the other two samples.

Nanovea Tribometers offers precise and repeatable wear and friction testing using ISO and ASTM compliant rotative and linear modules. It also provides optional high temperature wear, lubrication, and tribo-corrosion modules available in one pre-integrated system. Such versatility allows users to better simulate the real application environment and improve fundamental understanding of the wear mechanism and tribological characteristics of various materials.

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