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Design Problem: Develop a gear drive for a pedal-powered water craft that will be easy to manufacture, use and maintain; that will be lightweight enough for the boat to be portable; and that will eliminate the environmental risk of lubricants leaking into the water.
Three years ago, coated gears seemed to be the perfect solution for the Micro Marine Corporation. The early designs for the gear drive of their MicroCAT human-powered boat used a combination of thin-film dry gear coatings with lubrication and wear-resistance properties. These coatings simplified their design, provided corrosion resistance, made the gear drive environmentally safe and eliminated the need for gear drive lubrication and maintenance. It was a success story in the making.
A main limiting factor in extending the use of hard coatings to machine component application is the lack of knowledge about how these inert coatings perform under lubricated conditions using today's lubricants.