In the mechanical characterization of thin films, especially in tribology, a number of questions have remained unanswered for years. At the moment, there is a tendency to chose an empirical-analytical approach to answer them. From experience, well-known films are compared in traditional tests. They are evaluated based on their wear performance, friction coefficient and the time span until coating failure. Nanoindenters are used for these tests with the options nanoindentation, nano scratch and impact tests as well as more standard tribological instruments such as simple pin-on-disc testers or tribometers.
Based on a suggestion by the tribology committee of the European Society of Thin Films (EFDS), the first part of the toolbox to be developed has been the Simple Adhesion Calculator SAC from SIOMEC. In discussions with the committee experts it soon became clear that the mere observation of the critical loads of individual film systems during scratch tests only provides limited information for the characterization. The SAC finally takes care of this problem and allows the determination of surface adhesion.
Another useful tool is Homchecker, a program which provides information on the homogeneity of the film composition through a simple indentation test. In practice, problems often arise from an intrinsic inhomogeneity of the coating and not from poor coating adhesion.
Crit-Load is another tool in the box. It calculates the mechanical protection properties of a film on a given substrate. A diagram shows what counter-body a load can still be beared and when the substrate will be damaged.
Apart from this freeware, SIOMEC offers a variety of other software modules: iStress to calculate the ideal stress profile in a worst-case application; TestOptimizer which helps set the correct testing parameters and specimen geometries for experiments such as nanoindentation and nano scratch tests; and well-established modules like the Scratch Stress Analyser and Oliver&Pharr for coatings. The software module Impact allows users of Micro Materials instruments to calculate the mechanical stress during a nano impact experiment. All in all, Toolbox is the ideal, free-of-charge addition to your nanoindenter or scratch tester and allows more precise statements on the coating adhesion, homogeneity and individual failure mechanisms. Please contact us – we will be happy to send you the download link to the Toolbox freeware.