Water lubricated silicon carbide is expected to be widely used for sliding bearings and mechanical seals in hydraulic systems since it is environmentally friendly and saves energy. The purpose of this study is to find the optimum surface texture to improve the load carrying capacity of SiC bearings working in water. Micro-pits, evenly distributed in a square array, were selected as the texture pattern, and formed on one of the contact surfaces by reactive ion etching. Experiments, which simulate the working condition of thrust bearings, were carried out to evaluate the effects of the micro-pits on the critical load of the transition of the lubrication mode from hydrodynamic to mixed. The results are summarized in the form of a load carrying capacity map. It was found that an optimum geometric and distributive range of micro-pits exists, where the load carrying capacity can be increased at least twice over that of an untextured surface.
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