STLE (Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers), one of the largest professional societies in the field of machine lubrication, serves 15,000 industry professionals worldwide. This past Spring, STLE launched a chapter right here in Minnesota. Led by Lube-Tech Industrial and Distribution Product Development Michelle Brakke and Formulation Chemist Michael Quigley, the chapter fosters idea sharing and lubrication education by providing educational seminars and hosting social and networking events (among other things).
What is Tribology?
According to STLE’s web site, Tribology is “the study of science and engineering of interacting surfaces in relative motion. It includes the study and application of the principles of friction, lubrication and wear. Tribology is a branch of mechanical engineering and materials science.” Think of STLE as a vehicle for idea sharing, networking and educating those in the field of Tribology as well as those aspiring to become tribologists.
STLE is an international association that is dedicated to the study of interacting moving surfaces. STLE consists of professionals whose mission it is to improve the performance of equipment and products with an eye toward protecting the environment and advancing tribology associated with equipment performance. They serve more than 13,000 industry professionals and 250 companies and organizations that make up the tribology and lubrication engineering business. STLE offers education, professional resources, certifications, career development and technical support to the industry they serve.
Those lubricants in your machine, the greases, hydraulic fluids, cutting fluids, coolants and various other blends, are the result of a lot of laboratory work. When a Lube-Tech chemist visits a shop and is presented with a problem, they use knowledge gained from education and experience to solve that problem. STLE puts all the minds, such as those who work at Lube-Tech, together to talk about experiences and solutions as an effort to accelerate this process and make manufacturing a more efficient enterprise with higher quality, better-performing and more cost worthy solutions. STLE says proper tribology, meaning proper use of lubricants in industry, saves hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
Each year STLE holds an annual meeting and exhibition. These events are a place where tribologists can share technical information, professional development and network with others in the industry. The five-day conference features more than 500 technical presentations, case studies and best practices. The trade show exhibition features the latest products that are advancing the industry.
This year the STLE Annual Meeting & Exhibition took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota. True to form, it was jam-packed with the latest industry information and products. There were 508 presentations in 25 technical tracks. There were more than 1,500 registered attendees from 41 countries and 110 different companies.
Highlights of the Annual Meeting
The STLE – Minneapolis Section received “Outstanding Small Section” award, which was an exciting achievement after only a year and a half since its formation. Lube-Tech was able to take part in a larger STLE outreach event that hosted 40 students from Cooper High School for the 6th Annual Tribology STEM Camp. Lube-Tech had a test stand experiment on hand which highlights the need for special additives for cold weather applications by illustrating the effort it takes to pump different viscosity fluids through and orifice.
STLE Annual Meeting & Exhibition is an important event that affects the entire manufacturing industry. It is here where ideas are shared, and connections are made. If you’re wondering how and why your manufacturing problem was solved, chances are the solution passed through this event in one form or another. Next year’s STLE Annual Meeting & Exhibition takes place in Nashville, Tennessee, May 19-23. For more information on STLE visit www.stle.org.
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2018 edition of Precision Manufacturing, the Journal of the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association (MPMA).