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part I

General Fundamentals
of Surface Engineering

© 1999 by CRC Press LLC


chapter one

The concept of surface


engineering
1.1 The term ”surface engineering”
The word engineering stems from the French language (s’ingenier - to con-
template, rack one’s brains, strain oneself, exert oneself) and in the past
had one meaning, while presently it has several meanings, all fairly close. In
the past it was a skill; presently it is mainly a science relating to the design of
shape or properties of materials and their manufacturing processes.
Originally engineering encompassed the art of building fortifications,
strongholds and other elements of defense systems. In 18th - 19th century
Europe we see the beginnings of differentiation between military and civil-
ian engineering. In more modern times the concept of engineering em-
braced the art of design and construction of all types of structures (with
the exception of buildings) and various engineering branches were distin-
guished: civil, hydro-, maritime, sanitary, forestry.
After World War II, the influence of Anglo-Saxon countries caused the
spread in Europe of the US - born concept of social engineering. Quite
recently, a new branch of science, termed environmental engineering, came
into existence.
It was also during this last century, especially after World War II, that
the term engineering was broadened to encompass some areas of human
knowledge, more particularly those connected with applied research, e.g.
the science of unit operations used in the chemical and related industries
and the subsequent development of chemical equipment (chemical engi-
neering), or the applied science drawing on the theoretical achievements
of genetics in the breeding of animals, cultivation of plants and in medi-
cine (genetic engineering).
Created and in use are such concepts as: biomedical engineering, elec-
trical engineering, reliability engineering, programming engineering, com-
munications engineering, aerospace engineering, process engineering, me-
chanical, ion beam, corrosion and other types of engineering.
The early 70s saw the importation from the US to Europe of the concept of
material engineering, created in the 60s and embracing the “scientific disci-
pline dealing with the investigation of the structure of materials, as well as
improvement and the obtaining of new materials with predicted and repro-
ducible properties.” (Scientific and Technical Lexicon, WNT, Warsaw 1984).

© 1999 by CRC Press LLC


Departments, chairs, institutes and even entire faculties of material engineer-
ing have sprung up.
It follows from the above definition that materials engineering deals with
the investigation of the structure of and the design of different materials,
including composites. It does not follow, on the other hand, although it can-
not be excluded, that materials engineering deals specifically with problems
of enhancement or modification of surface properties of materials.
It is probably due to this that the new term surface engineering1 was coined
for the first time in England in the 70s. In the early 70s the Surface Engineer-
ing Society, affiliated with the Welding Institute in Abington, was inaugu-
rated. At first, it focused mainly on various aspects of welding and thermal
spraying and gradually it broadened its scope of interest. Next, the Wolfson
Institute for Surface Engineering was created at the University of Birming-
ham, initially concerned mainly with problems stemming from surface diffu-
sion treatments and their connection with vacuum technology, gradually
broadening the range of activity to other methods of formation of surface
layers.
The year 1985 saw the first edition of the quarterly “Surface Engineering”,
published by the Wolfson Institute for Surface Engineering jointly with the
Surface Engineering Society. As of 1987 another quarterly of a scientific-re-
search and technical nature was published under the same title, as the
combination of two periodicals: “Surfacing Journal International” and “Sur-
face Engineering”. This quarterly deals with thermal spraying technologies,
layer formation by PVD and CVD, electron and laser beam hardening, ion
implantation, shot peening, surface alloying by conventional and plasma
processes and generally with technologies of surface layer formation and
with some coating technologies. Problems of coatings, especially paint, plat-
ing and other types, are dealt with by other periodicals (e.g., “Surface and
Coatings Technology”, “Coatings”, “Metalloberfläche” and “Metal Finish-
ing”).
In October 1986, at the V International Congress of Heat Treatment of
Materials in Budapest, the name of the International Federation for Heat
Treatment of Materials, by then in existence for over 10 years, was changed
to International Federation for Heat Treatment of Materials and Surface
Engineering. For obvious reasons, both the Federation as well as Congresses
convened under its auspices prefer mostly problems connected with heat
treatment and, to a lesser degree, other problems connected with surface en-
gineering.
Over the past most recent years, many international conferences, meet-
ings and discussions devoted to surface engineering and its connections
with other fields of science and technology were organized.

1)
This term was later translated into French (l’ingenierie de surfaces), Russian (inzhinerya
poverkhnosti), and German (Oberflächeningenierie) but to this day used in these languages
only sporadically.

© 1999 by CRC Press LLC


1.2 Scope of topics forming the concept of surface
engineering
Surface Engineering is almost as old as structural materials used by man.
From the beginnings of time until the early 70s of our century, mankind has
worked on the development of surface engineering, although not aware of
the concept. The term of surface engineering, in use in the world for over ten
years, remained undefined and its topical scope is still the subject of discus-
sions, especially on the aspect of definitions.
In various ways, attempts have been made to define and to conduct a
broader discussion of selected problems of surface engineering, especially
those viewed through the techniques of formation covered by this scope
[1, 4]. Various book and handbook type publications presented different,
chronologically older technologies, within the scope of surface engineering.
There was a lack of publications dealing with the newest methods of manu-
facturing.
Earlier, generally the concept of surface enginnering was understood as
solely different techniques of forming superficial layers prior to the begin-
ning of service. Nothing was said about the formation of superficial layers
during service, about research and propertiers or about modeling of these
properties for concrete examples of application. Even newer literature does
not present a modern approach to the overall concept of surface engineering
[5, 6].
Today, such narrow understanding of surface engineering does not suf-
fice. In fact, this would be a far-reaching simplification. For this reason, it
was broadened during the years 1993-1995 to include problems of utilization
of superficial layers, as well as problems of their design [3, 4].
Based on research conducted since the 80s, as well as available scientific
and technical literature, the following topical scope and a definition of sur-
face engineering are proposed:
Surface engineering is a discipline of science, encompassing:
1) manufacturing processes of surface layers, thus, in accordance with the
accepted terminology - superficial layers and coatings, produced for both tech-
nological and end use purposes,
2) connected phenomena,
3) performance effects obtained by them.
Surface engineering encompasses all scientific and technical problems
connected with the manufacture of surface layers prior to end use or
service (technological layers) or during service (service-generated layers),
on or under the surface (superficial layers) or on a substrate (coatings),
with properties differing from those of the material which may be intro-
duced to the surface of the core in the form of gas, liquid or solid (Fig. 1.1).
It also includes research of connected phenomena and of potential and
usable properties of surface layers, as well as problems connected with
layer design.

© 1999 by CRC Press LLC


Fig. 1.1 Schematic representation of the area of activity of surface engineering.

Fig. 1.2 Scientific and technical activity adding up to create surface engineering.

Thus, surface engineering encompasses the total field of research and


technical activity aimed at the design, manufacture, investigation and utiliza-
tion of surface layers, both technological and for end use, with properties better
than those of the core, such as mainly anti-corrosion, anti-fatigue, anti-wear
and decorative. Other applications include properties such as optical,

© 1999 by CRC Press LLC


thermophysical, electrical, magnetic, adhesive, ablation, passivation, inhibition,
catalytic, biocompatibility, diffusion and others.
In the meaning as defined above, surface engineering has a lot in com-
mon with fundamental and applied (technical) science.
Surface engineering draws inspiration from (Fig. 1.2):
1) Fundamental sciences: physics, chemistry, partially mathematics and
constitutes their application to material surface;
2) Applied (technical) sciences:
– sciences dealing with materials science and material engineering, with
special emphasis on heat treatment,
– construction and use of machines, with special emphasis on material
strength, primarily fatigue, tribology and corrosion protection,
– electrical engineering, electronics, optics, thermokinetics, the science
of magnetism, etc.
The object of material science and material engineering - the material
constitutes the fundamental substance, the surface properties of which are
improved, enhanced and controlled by surface engineering. The knowledge
of material substrate or core structure is the basic condition of producing
layers on it. Methods of formation (producing) surface layers are included in
the area of machine building, as manufacturing methods.
The properties of surface layers produced are evaluated by methods
used in surface engineering, as well as in investigation and use of ma-
chines. These methods are used predominantly in areas such as: tribology,
corrosion protection, material strength, etc.
Some methods of designing of surface layer properties, used in surface
engineering, are also derived from - besides mathematics - material engi-
neering and machine building. This pertains primarily to material strength
and tribology.
The utilization of surface layers or their production during the course
of service belongs to the area of machine service and takes into account,
first and foremost, problems of tribology and corrosion protection.

References
1. Bell, T.: Surface engineering, past, present and future. Surface Engineering, Vol. 6,
No. 1, 1990, pp. 31-40.
2. Burakowski, T.: Metal surface engineering - status and perspectives of development
(in Russian). Series: Scientific-technical progress in machine-building. Edition 20.
Publications of International Center for Scientific and Technical Information - A.A.
Blagonravov Institute for Machine Science Building Research of the Academy of
Science of USSR, Moscow, 1990.
3. Burakowski, T., Rolinski, E., and Wierzchon, T.: Metal surface engineering (in
Polish). Warsaw University of Technology Publications, Warsaw, 1992.

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4. Burakowski, T.: A word about surface engineering (in Polish). Metaloznawstwo,
Obróbka Cieplna, Inzynieria Powierzchni (Metallurgy, Heat Treatment, Surface Engi-
neering), No. 121-123, 1993, pp. 16-31.
5. Tyrkiel, E. (General Editor), and Dearnley, P. (Consulting Editor): A guide to
surface engineering terminology. The Institute of Materials in Association with the
IFHT, Bourne Press, Bournemouth (UK), 1995.
6. Stafford, K.N., Smart, R. St. C., Sare, I., and Subramanian, Ch.: Surface engineer-
ing: processes and applications. Technomic Publishing Co. Lancaster (USA) - Basel
(Switzerland), 1995.

© 1999 by CRC Press LLC