introduction of a substance between the contact surfaces of moving parts to reduce friction and to dissipate heat. A lubricant may be oil, grease, graphite, or any substance—gas, liquid, semisolid, or solid—that permits free action of mechanical devices and prevents damage by abrasion and "seizing" of metal or other components through unequal expansion caused by heat. In machining processes lubricants also function as coolants to forestall heat-caused deformities.
Sections in this article:
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.