Purpose: This paper aims to investigate the effects of plasma nitriding and Ti-C:H coating deposition on AISI 316L and to find the best tribological performance of various specimens. Design/methodology/approach: An experimental investigation is performed into the effects of plasma nitriding and Ti-C:H sputtering on the tribological properties of AISI 316L biomedical stainless steel. Five samples are prepared, namely, original AISI 316L stainless steel (code: 316L), nitrided 316L (code: N316), 316L and N316 sputtered with Ti-C:H (codes: D316 and DN316, respectively) and polished N316 sputtered with Ti-C:H (DN316s). The microstructure, mechanical properties and coating adhesion strength of the various samples are investigated and compared. The tribological properties of the samples are then evaluated by means of reciprocating wear tests performed in 8.9 Wt.% NaCl solution against three different counterbodies, namely, a 316L ball, Ti6Al4V ball and Si3N4 ball. Findings: It is shown that plasma nitriding followed by Ti-C:H deposition (DN316s) improves the tribological properties of AISI 316L; the sample provides the best tribological performance of the various specimens and has a wear rate approximately 156 times lower than that of the original 316L substrate. Originality/value: The results suggest that nitriding followed by polishing and Ti-C:H sputtering provides an effective means of improving the service life of AISI 316L biomedical implants.
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