Please note that the details of this Challenge are no longer open. This challenge is awarded and is no longer accepting new submissions. You can:
Challenge Better Machines: Super Smooth and Tough Metal Surfaces
Better Machines: Super Smooth and Tough Metal Surfaces
STATUS: Awarded
Active Solvers: 173
Posted: Oct 24 2012
Challenge ID: 9933085
Team Project Rooms are available on this Challenge. Team Share Challenge Share

Novel methods to produce super smooth metal surfaces on load-bearing structures in gear assemblies are required. Multiple technologies are known to the Seeker – innovative adaptations of these, or completely new methods, are required. 

Although the Seeker highly values technologies or processes that can translate from other industries that apply surface science - e.g. medical devices, nanotechnology, packaging, or many others - proposals for novel materials or processes are also very welcome. 

This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.



Roughness of load bearing metal surfaces within transmission assemblies is the major contributor to efficiency losses through internal friction. Rough surfaces, even when lubricated, produce direct metal-metal contact and result in nucleation of stress, surface pitting and liberation of metal particles into lubricating fluids. These factors all contribute to both decreased efficiency and reductions in the system lifetime. 

A novel, or improved, surface treatment, additive or coating material is required

This is an Ideation Challenge, which has the following unique features:

  • There is a guaranteed award.  The awards will be paid to the best submission(s) as solely determined by the Seeker. The total payout will be $10,000, with at least one award being no smaller than $5,000 and no award being smaller than $1,000. 
  • The Solvers are not required to transfer exclusive intellectual property rights to the Seeker.  Rather, by submitting a proposal, the Solvers grants to the Seeker a royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information included in this proposal.

After the Challenge deadline, the Seeker will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the Winning Solution(s).All Solvers that submitted a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions; however, no detailed evaluation of individual submissions will be provided.

What is InnoCentive?
InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is an InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge?

An InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge is a broad question formulated to obtain access to new ideas, similar to a global brainstorm for producing a breakthrough idea or market survey which may include ideas for a new product line, a new commercial application for a current product, or even a viral marketing idea to recruit new customers. Ideation™ Challenge submissions are typically about two written pages, and Seekers receive a non-exclusive, perpetual license to use all submissions.

In an Ideation™ Challenge, Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own
  • Submit third party information that they have the right to use and further the authority to convey that right and the right to use and develop derivative works to Seekers
  • Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use

Solvers should not reveal any confidential information in their submissions. Often the Ideation™ Challenge will be followed by one or more of the other three Challenge types to further develop the ideas and gain Intellectual Property protection when the concept has been well-defined.

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