Web Site for Tribo Software?


HOUSTON–If you or your customer need to design, say, a diesel engine bearing, a group of tribologists would like to make your job easier. They want to provide a new web site offering software, such as journal bearing and rolling element bearing design programs, together with lubricant data base information to support the design programs.

At this week’s Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers Annual Meeting in Houston, the computer-aided tribology committee decided to take the first steps to resurrect an idea that was tried, but failed a decade ago.

Committee chair Gary Barber of Oakland University plans to surveySTLE’s members to determine what software the designers, researchers and engineers currently use, what software they want, what they would be willing to pay. If the committeedecides the idea is viable today, the next step will be a proposal to STLE.

In late 1988, the U.S. tribology community formed ACTIS (A Computerized Tribology Information Service). Set up as a nonprofit corporation, ACTIS was funded by the U.S. Dept. of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, with additional support from ASME, STLE, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force. ACTIS’ primary mission was to collect, validate and distribute tribological data in computerized form.

ACTIS operated for several years, but computer operating systems and computer users’ graphics expectations were changing rapidly, and ACTIS couldn’t keep up. Several organizations, both nonprofits andfor-profit businesses,considered taking over the project,but all decided the costs and risks were too high. So the dream of a computerized tribology information service faded a decade ago.

“Maintenance and documentation are the big problems,” said William Marscher of Mechanical Solutions, who was active in the original ACTIS organization. “Whoever hosts a new activity will have to have the resources to keep up with technology changes.”

“But the environment today may be friendlier for this effort,” said David Brewe of the U.S. Army Vehicle Technical Center in Cleveland.

So the STLE committee is moving forward, cautiously, to testthe waters and determine the needs of tribology software users. The obstacles to setting up a new tribology web site are substantial, but so are the rewards.

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