Development of a Maintenance Free Self-Lubricating Ball Joint 1999-01-0036
Vehicular suspension ball joints can be categorized in the family of tribological systems which can reduce useful service or working capacity through malfunction or breakdown. Detailed metallurgical analysis of the friction and wear mechanisms on typical ball joint bearing surfaces point to a Teflon-based woven fabric, self-lubricating liner as the best bearing material for the joint. Laboratory functional testing was conducted on modern, 4-axis test equipment simulating the applicable loading and motion conditions typically encountered in use. The self-lubricated bearing liner woven with Teflon thread demonstrated higher sustained load capacity, less rotating friction, excellent torque retention qualities and extended life in comparison to existing components utilizing greased metal-on-metal and/or “plastic” bearing materials. This paper describes how the advanced Fiberglide® liner technology and redesigned suspension ball joint provides superior performance and maintenance-free operation at attractive costs for mass-produced vehicle applications.