An International Consortium develops a friction management solution

Friction in rubber dynamic seals is a well-known problem, whose consequences in terms of money-loss are high, either due to maintenance or the risks of failure to operate correctly.
The Softslide Consortium aims to solve friction issues. Five international partners have combined their knowhow in order to develop an innovative friction management process, called the Friction Management Solution. The aim of this consortium is to tackle friction problems with tailor-made solutions. The consortium can also offer all the technologies, machines and expertise to fulfil the order from design to mass production. The 5 members of the consortium are: the Italian company ML Engraving (2D and 3D laser engraving on moulds); the Israeli company SKM Aeronautics (manufacturer of moulds and seals); the English company Reagent (semi-permanent mould release coatings); the Leibniz University of Hannover (IDS) and ITAINNOVA (Instituto Tecnológico de Aragón).
The Friction Management Solution claims that the best way to achieve a better performance and durability on rubber dynamic seals is to work on their 3D micro-texture surface by means of multiscale laser engraving on the moulds and later transfer to the seals. Modification of the rubber contact area, witholding of lubricant and of third body abrasion particles are some of the technical benefits of texturing. After the design process of the Softslide solution, there is no increase of the unit production costs.
The Softslide pay-off Friction Management Solution means that not only does the consortium aim to reduce friction, but also to solve specific friction problems, including its increase, when it is necessary (for example anti-slip surfaces).
Tests and trials after optimization have confirmed an important friction reduction that can reach -50% in working conditions, with a consequent decrease of the wear, a significant increase of the seal durability and a 15% reduction of energy waste without any specific change in the counter surface, lubrication conditions or in the compound. If required, a friction increase can reach +20%. Performance depends on the application market and the material,
Softslide technology addresses every market where engines, automation and dynamic equipment are required such as automotive, wind turbines, oil & gas, food processing, aerospace, fire prevention systems and many more.