"We managed to incorporate Fraunhofer IAP's microcapsules filled with liquid lubricant into thermoplastics using a twin-screw extruder. The challenging task was to mix the microcapsules with thermoplastics under high temperatures without damaging the capsules. Only when friction occurs in the final component the capsules should break and release the lubricant. This allows the component to lubricate itself automatically", explains Moritz Grünewald, researcher in the Materials Development Group at the SKZ Plastics Center. "Our friction and wear tests showed a reduction in wear of up to 85 percent on plastic-steel pairings. Thus, components last significantly longer and generate less microplastic."
Based on these results, the material system is being optimized further for potential applications. The development is now focusing on improved mechanical and thermal properties of the self-lubricating plastics.