Using a Tribometer to Test Wood Wear

For thousands of years, wood has been used as a building material for furniture, homes and flooring. It is an ideal candidate for flooring due to its combination of durability, restorability and natural beauty.

Hardwood floors, unlike carpet, keep their color for a long time and can be cleaned and maintained easily. However, most wood flooring requires the application of a surface finish in order to protect the natural material from damaging such as chipping and scuffing over time.

In this study, the wear rate and coefficient of friction (COF) were measured using a Nanovea Tribometer in order to better understand the comparative performance of three different wood finishes.

Importance of Comparing Wood Finish Wear and COF

Often, the service behaviour of a wood species used for flooring is related to its wear resistance. Changes in the individual cellular and fiber structure of different wood species contributes to their different tribological and mechanical behaviors.

Actual service tests of wood as flooring materials are difficult to duplicate, require long periods of testing time, and are expensive. Therefore, it is important to develop a simple wear test that is straight forward and can produce reliable and reproducible results.

Equipment Featured

NANOVEA T50

Versatile Wear and Friction Tester

Speed Control from 0.01 – 5000 RPM

Multi-Module System

Wide Range of Environmental Conditions

Robust with Open Platform

Measurement Objectives

In this study, the wear behaviors of three types of wood were simulated and compared. This was undertaken in order to showcase the capability of the Nanovea Tribometer when evaluating the tribological properties of wood in a monitored and controlled manner.

Tribology Results

Discussion

Sample Description: Due to its 7-layer aluminum oxide finish, Antique Birch Hardwood has everyday wear and tear protection. Both Santos Mahogany and Courtship Grey Oak are laminate flooring types and vary with regards to surface finish and gloss. Santos Mahogany is a dark burgundy color, prefinished, and high gloss. This means that surface scratches and defects can be more hidden easily than with the Courtship Grey Oak, which is a slate grey color, EIR finish and low gloss.

Evolution of COF during wear tests of the three wood flooring samples. The Santos Mahogany, Antique Birch Hardwood and Courtship Grey Oak samples all showed different COF behavior.

Figure 1. shows the evolution of COF during wear tests of the three wood flooring samples. The Santos Mahogany, Antique Birch Hardwood and Courtship Grey Oak samples all showed different COF behavior.

The graph above demonstrates that the only sample to show a steady COF for the duration of an entire test was Antique Birch Hardwood. The Courtship Grey Oak demonstrated a sharp increase in COF and then a gradual decrease and this may indicate that the surface roughness of the sample was the main contributor to its COF behavior.

Surface roughness decreased as the sample wore and became more homogenous. This explains the decrease in COF as the surface of the sample became smoother due to mechanical wear. The COF on Santos Mahogany shows a smooth and gradual increase in COF at the beginning of the test. This transitioned abruptly into a choppy COF trend. This may be because the steel ball (counter material) made contact with the wood substrate after the laminate coat started to wear through. The wood substrate wore more quickly and turbulently which created the noisier COF behavior near the end of the test.

Measurement Parameters

Table 1:Test parameters for COF and wear measurements

Instrument T50
Wood Samples Antique Birch Hardwood, Courtship Grey Oak, & Santos Mahogany
Normal Force (N) 20
Wear ring Radius (mm) 6
Speed (RPM) 300
Duration of Test (minutes) 10

Samples Tested

Sample of Antique Birch, Courtship Grey Oak, and Santos Mahogany (left to right)

Sample of Antique Birch, Courtship Grey Oak, and Santos Mahogany (left to right)

Antique Birch Hardwood

Sample of Antique Birch

Sample of Antique Birch

3D view of scan taken for Sample Antique Birch Hardwood

Figure 2: 3D view of scan taken for Sample Antique Birch Hardwood

Volume of a Hole

Figure 3: Volume of a Hole

Courtship Grey Oak

Sample of Courtship Grey Oak

Sample of Courtship Grey Oak

3D view of scan taken for Sample Courtship Grey Oak

Figure 4: 3D view of scan taken for Sample Courtship Grey Oak

Volume of a Hole

Figure 5: Volume of a Hole

Santos Mahogany

Figure 6: 3D view of scan taken for Sample Santos Mahogany

Volume of a Hole

Figure 7: Volume of a Hole

Results

The results of the wear track scans and analysis on all flooring samples after the wear tests were performed are summarized in Table 2. Figures 2 – 7 provide detailed information and images for each sample. Based on the Wear Rate comparison between all three samples, it can be concluded that, compared to the other two samples, Santos Mahogany was less resilient to mechanical wear.

Sample Volume Lost ( μm3) Wear Rate x10-5(mm3/Nm)
Antique Birch Hardwood 419852848 18.58
Courtship Grey Oak 422305079 18.69
Santos Mahogany 1.95E+10 862.86

Courtship Grey Oak and Antique Birch Hardwood had very similar wear rates, however, their wear behavior during the course of their tests differed significantly. Courtship Grey Oak showed a shallow and pitted wear track which was due to the pre-existing surface texture and finish, whilst Antique Birch Hardwood had a gradual and more uniform wear trend.

Conclusion

This study demonstrates the capacity of the Nanovea Tribometer in evaluating the coefficient of friction and wear resistance of three types of wood: Courtship Grey Oak, Santos Mahogany and Antique Birch Hardwood, in a controlled and monitored environment. The Antique Birch Hardwood has superior mechanical properties and this results in better wear resistance.

The homogeneity and texture of the wood surface is important for the wear behavior. The Courtship Grey Oak surface texture demonstrated gaps or crack between the wood cell fibers and these may become the weak spots between where the wear initiates and propagates.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Nanovea.

For more information on this source, please visit Nanovea.

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