High temperature tribological behaviour of PVD coated tool steel and aluminium under dry and lubricated conditions


Aluminium alloys are commonly used as lightweight materials in the automotive industry. This non-ferrous family of metallic alloys offers a high versatility of properties and designs. To reduce weight and improve safety, high strength-to-weight ratio alloys (e.g. 6XXX and 7XXX), are increasingly implemented in vehicles. However, these alloys exhibit low formability and experience considerable springback during cold forming, and are therefore hot formed. During forming, severe adhesion (i.e. galling) of aluminium onto the die surface takes place. This phenomenon has a detrimental effect on the surface properties, geometrical tolerances of the formed parts and maintenance of the dies. The effect of surface engineering as well as lubricant chemistry on galling has not been sufficiently investigated. Diamond-like carbon (DLC) and CrN physical vapour deposition (PVD) coated steel have been studied to reduce aluminium transfer. However, the interaction between lubricants and PVD coatings during hot forming of aluminium alloys is not yet fully understood. The present study thus aims to characterise the high temperature tribological behaviour of selected PVD coatings and lubricants during sliding against aluminium alloy. The objectives are to first select promising lubricant-coating combinations and then to study their tribological response in a high-temperature reciprocating friction and wear tester. Dry and lubricated tests were carried out at 300 °C using a commercial polymer lubricant. Tests using DLC, CrN, CrTiN, and CrAlN coated tool steel were compared to uncoated tool steel reference tests. The initial and worn test specimen surfaces were analysed with a 3-dimensional (3D) optical profiler, scanning electron microscope (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscope (EDS) as to understand the wear mechanisms. The results showed formation of tribolayers in the contact zone, reducing both friction and wear. The stability of these layers highly depends on both the coatings’ roughness and chemical affinity towards aluminium. The DLC and CrN coatings combined with the polymer lubricant were the most effective in reducing aluminium transfer.


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The authors would like to acknowledge Swerea IVF (now RISE) for the financial and material support as well as their inputs for the realisation of this study.

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Correspondence to Justine Decrozant-Triquenaux.

Additional information

Justine DECROZANT-TRIQUENAUX. She received her M.Sc. in mechanical engineering in 2016 from Ecole Nationale d’Ingénieurs de Saint Etienne (ENISE), France. After then, she was a Ph.D. student at the Luleå University of Technology, Sweden. Her Ph.D. degree will be defended in mechanical engineering. Her research areas include high temperature tribology with a focus on sheet metal forming of aluminium.

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Decrozant-Triquenaux, J., Pelcastre, L., Courbon, C. et al. High temperature tribological behaviour of PVD coated tool steel and aluminium under dry and lubricated conditions. Friction (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40544-020-0435-7

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  • high temperature tribology
  • aluminium
  • lubrication
  • physical vapour deposition (PVD) coatings
  • material transfer
  • adhesion