DUCOM Rotary (Pin/Ball on Disk) Tribometer

Ducom’s Rotary Tribometer is a must-have workhorse instrument, already in use in several tribometry labs. It allows for real-time measurement and determination of the frictional properties, and gradual wear, of different samples. It can be used with designs in ball-pin form, or else for disk specimens. The flexibility of the instrument allows for you to test the samples in dry or lubricated condition, and regardless of the hardness or roughness of the sample. Experiments can be conducted in dry or lubricated condition.

There are three key variables which can be controlled across a wide range of values: the load, speed and motion are three important variables. The design allows loads from: 2 N to 1000 N, which can be set manually or via computer-controlled profiles. The speed can be varied between 0.3 rpm to 3000 rpm (computer controlled profiles), and the tribometer provides three different types of wear profiles (rotation, spiral and oscillation).

Ducom’s Rotary Tribometer is made up of environment control modules which allow for features like heating (up to 1000 deg C), vacuum (up to 10-6 Torr) and humidity (up to 80 % RH). It complies with ASTM G99.

Ducom Rotary Tribometer with heating chamber

Figure 1. Ducom Rotary Tribometer with heating chamber

Dry and lubricated test conditions (A), Wear profiles – oscillation, circular and spiral (B), Independent ball and disk heating at 800 °C (C).

Figure 2. Dry and lubricated test conditions (A), Wear profiles – oscillation, circular and spiral (B), Independent ball and disk heating at 800 °C (C).

Please click here if you would like more information on the product in this article or a quote

Application Examples

  • Examining extreme pressure and wear behavior of liquids and lubricants such as greases, oils and additives (using the high load option)
  • Determining and plotting Stribeck curves will allow you to map the lubricative properties of oils, both with and without viscosity modifiers and additives. These same Stribeck curves can be plotted for food additives and beverages as well.
  • Examining the friction and wear of metals as they undergo forming and reforming at high temperatures (up to 1000 °C).
  • Examining the directional dependence of the friction and wear behavior for materials such as polymer composites – or brake pad materials at high temperatures for use in vehicles
  • Examining the tribo-corrosion of materials over time – for example, mining materials, drills, and their coatings which need to withstand considerable pressure
  • Quick tribological characterization of coatings like TiBN, TiN, DLC, WC, PCD, etc.
  • Examining the tribology of materials in a vacuum or at high temperatures using the environment modules – which could be useful for space applications.

Heated PCD pin and granite disk at RT

Heated PCD pin and granite disk at RT

Functional Features

  • For loading the pin/ball onto the disk, you have the option of a computer controlled pneumatic loading unit or a servo-controlled unit. There are three different preset modes that can be used: ramp, step or continuous loading. You can also design software driven sequences of load profiles and speed, up to a maximum of 1000 N.
  • Servo-motor controlled disk motion allows the tribometer to achieve multi-direction motion. This means it can examine wear profiles like rotation (clockwise or counter clockwise), oscillatory profiles, or spiral wear profiles. You can control the speed profiles with software to allow you to plot Stribeck curves, using user-predefined speed profiles including ramp-up. This tribometers’ maximum speed is 3000 rpm.
  • Furnace or joule heating methods can be used to heat up the pin/ball mechanism to high temperatures, up to 1000 °C. Using the Joule heating method, accurate final temperatures can be attained for the pin/ball mechanism.
  • A leak-proof metallic enclosure combined with turbomolecular and suction pumps can allow you to achieve an ultra-high vacuum of 10-7 torr – around the disk testing area for the pin/ball mechanism.
  • A three electrode potentiostat allows you to generate linear polarization curves according to ASTM G59. This then lets you determine the wear and mass loss profile due to the corrosion and mechanical wear on the device.
  • A closed chamber allows for the control of humidity, taking values between 30 % to 75 % RH. Solenoid valves and two air columns in the chamber generate dry air and generate saturated (humid) air using a compressed air supply; this allows the humidity to be controlled in the tribometer’s environmental module.
  • The lubricant module consists of a lubricant pump, nozzle and splash guard. There is also a recollection unit, and the lubricant cup is big enough to accommodate the test sample.
  • The tribometer measures the contact resistance and friction between the pin/ball and disk using an electrical, voltage-drop method. All of the holders are made of non-conductive materials to minimize noise.

Technical Specifications

Test variables Units Micro POD Macro POD
Normal force / Load N 2 to 60 A. 2 to 200
B. 100 to 1000
Friction force N 0 to 60 A. 0 to 200
B. 0 to 1000
Rotational speed rpm A. 0.3 to 1500
B. 0.3 to 3000
Linear wear (LVDT) µm 0 to 2000
Wear track diameter mm 0 to 80
Ball diameter mm 6 to 12
Pin diameter mm 6 to 12
Disk diameter mm 5 to 100
Operating temperature ºC RT to 1000
Operating humidity % RH 15 to 95


  • The resolution of the force (friction or load) is 1% of the maximum value in a given range. For example, the friction force resolution is 0.6 N for a friction force measurement range of 0 to 60 N.
  • The resolution of the linear wear is 0.1 % of the maximum value in a given range. For example, the linear wear resolution is 2 µm.

Optional Features

  • Automated Load Control
  • Advanced Motion
  • High Temperature Module
  • Electrical Contact Resistance
  • Vacuum Chamber
  • Lubricant Chamber
  • Humidity Control System
  • Tribo-corrosion

Lubricant chamber with the lubricant recirculation unit

Lubricant chamber with the lubricant recirculation unit

User Convenience Features

  • Modular system: Due to the modular nature of the system, the pin-on-disk unit can be replaced or upgraded with any of the optional features listed above at any point after purpose.
  • Applicable for multidisciplinary research: This system has uses across a range of different tribology studies. Examples include automotive tribology – for example, the friction and wear of brake pads, bearings, tool materials, as well as examining the fuel economy and lubrication of the fuel materials. It can be used to examine space tribology (using the vacuum chamber), and assorted lubricant tribology (engine oils, fuels, greases, etc.). Further still, the setup can be used to analyze bio-tribology – Stribeck curves and friction profiles for polymers and food additives, for example.
  • Low maintenance cost: Ducom prides itself on high-value design instruments, which – alongside the quality of components chosen – ensures that the maintenance costs are low. For example, if users utilize the joule heating rather than the furnace heating, the lifetime will be greatly increased. As well as this, online support when required is free.
  • Ease of calibration: The calibration of the friction and normal forces on the device can be done using a simple known weight and a loading pan; this calibration technique is well-known and doesn’t require specialists to perform.

Standard Scope of Supply

Description Material Units
Pin and ball holder SS 304 1
Disk holder SS 304 1
Base unit (electrical control box and mechanical assembly) 1
Load cell and flexure (friction) 1
Linear variable differential transducer (wear sensor) 1
Specimen set (pin, ball and disk) Brass pin, Steel ball and disk 1
Computer with NI card and labview based WinDucom data acquisition and analysis software 1
Tool kit 1
Calibration kit (dead weights and loading pan) 1
Operation and installation manual (English)

The table covers the spare parts that is already included in the instrument. You have to place an order for additional units and optionals.

About Ducom’s Testing Facilities

Fortune 500 companies, from small research laboratories to major R+D departments in large companies, use Ducom for tribological tests. There are a number of different tribometers, mechanical testers and lubricant testers at three locations: including in India, the Netherlands, and the USA. Ducom will allow you to remotely witness tests by video, saving on the costs of having to travel to these facilities in person.

These test facilities have been in service since 1999, providing tribological testing facilities to academica and industry alike. The tribometers used by Ducom are state-of-the-art and regularly calibrated to ensure that their results are accurate and reproducible. Even in the field of tribological testing alone, the staff at the Ducom Testing Facility have over fifty years of combined experience with this state-of the art equipment. With Ducom, you can get your testing done without capital investment or additional manpower requirement. Using their centralized facilities, you avoid the need to train testers, and avoid maintenance and AMC costs for the equipment. In addition, they provide excellent security; the facility has limited access and non-disclosure agreements are available. All tests will be reported in accordance with existing standards.

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

For more information on this source, please visit Ducom.


Picture 1
Picture 2
Picture 3


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Ducom. (2019, July 18). DUCOM Rotary (Pin/Ball on Disk) Tribometer. AZoM. Retrieved on April 06, 2020 from https://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=15385.

  • MLA

    Ducom. "DUCOM Rotary (Pin/Ball on Disk) Tribometer". AZoM. 06 April 2020. <https://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=15385>.

  • Chicago

    Ducom. "DUCOM Rotary (Pin/Ball on Disk) Tribometer". AZoM. https://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=15385. (accessed April 06, 2020).

  • Harvard

    Ducom. 2019. DUCOM Rotary (Pin/Ball on Disk) Tribometer. AZoM, viewed 06 April 2020, https://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=15385.

Ask A Question

Do you have a question you'd like to ask regarding this article?

Leave your feedback