Due to a growing demand for protecting metallic components from wear and tear, polymer coatings are being extensively researched and developed as one of the most effective and efficient solutions to reduce friction and wear in demanding tribological applications. The present study focuses on developing a polymer nanocomposite coating of ultra-high molecular polyethylene (UHMWPE) reinforced with different loadings (0.5, 3, 5, and 10 wt %) of alumina to protect steel surfaces. Wear tests were conducted on the coated samples using a tribometer with a ball-on-disk configuration, sliding against a 440C hardened stainless steel ball as a counterface to evaluate the wear life and the load-bearing capacity of the developed coatings. Micro-indentation, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and optical profilometry techniques were used to characterize the coatings in terms of hardness, dispersion of the nanofillers, morphology, and wear mechanisms, respectively. Results showed that the UHMWPE nanocomposite coating reinforced with 3 wt % and 5 wt % of alumina did not fail, even until 250,000 cycles at a normal load of 12 N and a linear speed of 0.1 m/s, showing a significant improvement in wear resistance as compared to the pristine UHMWPE coating.
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