The need for industrial components running in critical applications to perform with longer, more predictable lifetimes at lower costs is an increasing trend in our industry as operators need ever-increasing efficiency, responsiveness, and low-cost operations. Achieving this kind of performance on sealing or mating surfaces in valves, actuators and related products is driving designers to incorporate more advanced surface engineering capabilities into the fundamental designs of their products.

At Woodward, we have come a long way in tribological performance over the past decade by understanding the “surface-substrate” system to develop purpose-built products tailored for the specific kind of wear environments they will see in operation. This kind of design tailoring is the key surface science challenge in the tribological world. Many organizations get overwhelmed when first realizing the need to address this, and take an overly empirical approach. The key to timely progress in the development of these products is a keen understanding of the physics at work combined with detailed and pragmatic engineering processes to effectively apply these foundational principles.

Another specific but vital element of these purpose-built designs is a robust metrology capability built on both capital and human resource strategy. Advanced metrology applied in this manner serves two purposes. First, it is the path to fast development. While it can be capital intensive, metrology can drastically cut down design and validation time. Second, it is the foundation for sustainable production of advanced technology. An organization like Woodward needs exquisite process control capabilities to predictably produce these advanced surface-substrate systems to meet our customers’ ever-increasing requirements.

It’s an exciting time to be in the surface technology field. We are in a revolution of both manufacturing techniques and data science that will enable solutions thought to be impossible not long ago.