Advanced Bearing and Gear Steel Materials and Thermal Processing

Period of Performance: 10/17/2011 - 04/17/2012


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Abbott Ball Company
19 Railroad Place
West Hartford, CT 06133
Principal Investigator


The Abbott Ball Company has engineered a new, breakthrough material: Powder Metal Nitinol 60, which is an alloy of 60% Nickel and 40% Titanium. The material can be hardened to above Rockwell 60, has much better corrosion resistance than austenitic or martensitic stainless steels, weights 15% less than steel and can flex a full 5% without any permanent deformation. Originally discovered by Dr. William Buehler of the Naval Research Laboratory fifty years ago, development was abandoned when insurmountable problems were encountered with cast material. To overcome the difficulties with cast material, Abbott Ball Company has devised a method of manufacturing Nitinol 60 using powder metal techniques. Working with NASA, we have made spheres, bearing races, and various other parts to characterize the material. The Nitinol 60 balls tested lower on coefficient of friction than other known bearing materials and durability tests proved that parts made of the material will stand up to vigorous use. We propose to solve the gear and corrosion problems being encountered by the Navy and others by making gears and ball bearings from Nitinol 60. NASA, among many other businesses, has pledged to support our efforts and complete materials characterization using parts supplied by Abbott. Additionally, Wedeven Laboratory has a large data bank on the existing materials and will run tests to evaluate the suitability of Nitinol 60 for gear and ball bearing applications.