50 years of tribology

From wind farms to data storage, from deodorants to floor tiles, tribology is involved in many aspects of modern life yet most people have never heard of the word, let alone know what it means.

Tribology is the science and technology of friction, wear and lubrication, and the word was coined by a UK government committee which reported 50 years ago – on 9 March 1966.


The report described the broad field of knowledge which encompasses the control of friction and wear in mechanical systems by lubrication and surface engineering. Progress in tribology underpins almost all engineering and technological advances – wherever one surface moves against another.


In 1993 Ian Hutchings (GKN Professor of Manufacturing Engineering at the IfM and Head of the Inkjet Research Centre) and John Williams, Professor of Engineering Tribology (Emeritus), founded the Cambridge Tribology Course which runs every year and regularly attracts 30 to 40 delegates from all over the world. More than 700 people have attended the course since its inception.


The 2018 Tribology Course will take place on 10 to 12 September. To find out more or book your place, please visit here.


To commemorate 50 years of tribology, Ian Hutchings has written an article for the March issue of Ingenia, please see here.



Image: The phenomenal storage capacity of computer hard disks requires the head to ‘fly’ on a film of air less than 10 nm thick – a ‘gas bearing’ with air as a lubricant. - © Eric Gaba, Wikimedia Commons user Sting.

Date published

14 March 2016

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