Tribology is the part of science and technology that studies the interaction of surfaces in relative motion, friction, wear, and lubrication. Friction and wear are present in all the components where moving bodies are in contact with each other (gears, bearings, tyres, etc.) and, therefore, in a very wide range of elements, sectors and applications. Reliable, long-lasting, and sustainable operation of machines and mechanical systems is closely dependent on how well the friction and wear, and overall materials performance are controlled. So, tribological characterization is crucial in the development of novel products and the driving of new materials into sustainable solutions within any machine or mechanical system.

Therefore, to bring new materials and products into market in many industrial sectors, materials development and up-scaling require a clear understanding of the materials tribological behaviour and durability under specific system operating conditions. This requires long-term tribological materials characterisation, and the availability of specific and often complex testing in different test scales to enable the evaluation of tribological performance or process deviations in the manufacturing of materials.

Tekniker, in collaboration with the rest of the European i-TRIBOMAT project partners, responds to these industrial challenges by establishing a virtual laboratory, providing cross-border and cross-institutional, tribological services all around Europe. i-TRIBOMAT will provide the world’s first Open Innovation Test Bed for the validation and up-scaling of new materials, thereby enabling intelligent tribological materials characterization, and fostering industrial innovation in the European manufacturing industry.

Tekniker, member of the Basque Research and Technology Alliance (BRTA), participates in the project by offering two types of expertise areas. From one side, its 38 years of experience in Tribology, more than 30 tribometers and equipment for a detailed surface analysis, enable Tekniker to lead the definition of services for experimental tribological characterisation of materials, as well as the connectivity and data exchange between tribometers and surface characterization shared in infrastructures at different laboratories. On the other side, Tekniker has more than 20 years of expertise in digitalization, data management and semantics. The work done in these fields will help gather all the accumulated data in the field of Tribology. Furthermore, Tekniker leads the definition and implementation of data-driven services. In addition, it is responsible for managing i-TRIBOMAT´s collaborations with relevant institutions in the European materials characterisation landscape, such as the European Technology Platform for Advanced Engineering Materials and Technologies (EUMAT) and the European Materials Characterization Council (EMCC).

The consortium of the project includes some of the most important research centres for Tribology in Europe, Tekniker being the reference institution in this matter in Spain, AC2T in Austria, VTT in Finland and BAM in Germany. The i-TRIBOMAT Test Bed will make use of the expertise of the Tribology centres to carry out a significant variety of tests, both at laboratory and at component scales, simulation, and numerical modelling. In addition, using specifically designed upscaling tools and the database generated from the experience of all the partners, it would be possible to achieve a breakthrough in predicting the durability of conventional and novel materials for a wide range of mechanical systems and industrial applications.

i-TRIBOMAT emerges as a response to the industrial needs of material and component manufacturers independently of their size. Specific tribological expertise, facilities and analysis tools will enable these industries to capitalise on their new ideas aimed at reliable and durable market solutions, with the ultimate goal to reduce costs and time-to-market of products down to 20% when up-scaling materials, Sustainability of i-TRIBOMAT beyond the EU funding period is ensured by founding a legal entity that operates as a Single-Entry Point for the European Open Innovation Test Bed (OITB) for tribological characterization of materials.

This project has received funding from European Union´s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no.: 814494

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