Abrasion resistance is a property which allows a material to resist wear. Materials which are abrasion resistant are useful for situations in which mechanical wearing and damage can occur, including delicate applications such as the construction of space shuttle components. Numerous companies manufacture abrasion resistant products for a variety of applications, including products which can be custom fabricated to meet the needs of specific users.
When a product has abrasion resistance, it will resist erosion caused by scraping, rubbing, and other types of mechanical wear. This allows the material to retain its integrity and hold its form. This can be important when the form of a material is critical to its function, as seen when moving parts are carefully machined for maximum efficiency. Abrasion resistant materials can be used for both moving and fixed parts in settings where wearing could become an issue.
There are a number of ways to make a material resistant to abrasion. One option is to utilize a special coating which creates a hardened layer over the material and resists friction. Some materials are also naturally extremely hard, and are ideal for settings in which abrasion resistance will be desirable. Other materials can be specifically formulated for increased hardness, as seen in plastics facilities which manufacture abrasion resistant plastics with the use of chemicals which harden and strengthen the plastic.
It is important to note that being abrasion resistant does not make a material abrasion proof. Mechanical wearing will eventually cause erosion, breaking down the surface of the material and gradually changing its shape. Natural wearing can also result in erosion. Water, for example, is a highly efficient solvent which is capable of wearing down entire mountain ranges, and man-made materials will likewise eventually wear down when exposed to the elements.
Depending on the process used to develop abrasion resistance in a product, abrasion resistance can be a costly feature. If it is not strictly necessary, abrasion resistant materials may be avoided simply because of their higher costs, with the goal of bringing down the total costs of production. In cases where the trait could be useful, but not vital, people may weigh the cost of abrasion resistance versus the cost of replacing materials as they wear down to determine which choice would be better. Companies which manufacture abrasion resistant products usually publish information about how durable their materials are, using materials testing to determine how long these products will stay whole.