Despite the fact that ceramics and polymers have found numerous applications in several mechanical systems, metals and metallic alloys still remain the main materials family for manufacturing the bulk of parts and components of engineering assemblies. However, in cases of components that are serving as parts of a tribosystem, the application of surface modification techniques is required to ensure their unhampered function during operation. After a short introduction on fundamental aspects of tribology, this review article delves further into four representative case studies, where the inappropriate application of wear protection techniques has led to acceleration of the degradation of the quasi-protected metallic material. The first deals with the effects of the deficient lubrication of rolling bearings designed to function under oil lubrication conditions; the second is focused on the effects of overloading on sliding bearing surfaces, wear-protected via nitrocarburizing; the third concerns the application of welding techniques for producing hardfacing overlayers intended for the wear protection of heavily loaded, non-lubricated surfaces; the fourth deals with the degradation of thermal-sprayed ceramic coatings, commonly used as wear-resistant layers.
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