The proposal should address surface-modifying methods which do not alter the chemical composition of the surface or add an extra layer of a different material, for example: micro-machining, texturing, photon-based technologies, laser, mechanical treatments, etc. These methods should be used to create new manufacturing processes that can be applied on mass production lines. Due to the need for cost-effective technologies, these processes should be easy to integrate within the existing manufacturing plants and cost-effectiveness should be demonstrated. The research activities should be multi-disciplinary and address all of the following issues:
- Development of cost-efficient, up-scalable and adaptable surface processing techniques that introduce micro- or nano-scale modifications at the surface level of the part providing it with specific properties or capabilities.
- Design and implementation of specific methods and systems that enable highly efficient up-scaling of the developed processing techniques from laboratory scale to real scale, with a specific objective to apply the processes for mass production.
- Implementation of modelling tools to support selection of the processing parameters that lead to the targeted surface modifications.
- Solutions which are economically viable, environmentally friendly and easy to transfer to other fields than the demonstrated fields of application.
- In-process inspection and monitoring possibilities to ensure that the final results remain within the quality requirements.
The projects are expected to cover applied research but also demonstration activities, such as testing a prototype in a simulated operational environment. The ability of the demonstration activities to validate a technology’s high level of readiness will be reflected in the evaluation.
Activities are expected to focus on Technology Readiness Levels 4 to 6.
This topic is particularly suitable for SMEs.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 3 and 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
As a response to increasing competition in global markets, many industrial sectors (e.g. automotive, aerospace, tooling or packaging) aim at improving their product performances through surface functionalisation. As the products are increasingly complex in terms of scale (from nano to macro) and shape, processes need to deliver efficiently, ensuring an uncompromised quality together with high versatility and controlled costs. One way to reach this goal is to differentiate between a product body and its surface, where specific properties can be tailored. Furthermore, the required functionalities may be achieved with little or no addition of new raw material. For example, modifications in the surface geometry or even microstructure induced by texturing processes enable to improve the performance of those products by providing them with dedicated functionalities such as tailored friction, antibacterial properties, aesthetic issues or self-cleaning capabilities, among others.
In this context, substantial research is needed for exploring innovative approaches aimed at producing high added-value functional surfaces by a superficial modification of the substrate. Special attention should be paid to the cost efficiency of the novel surface manufacturing processes and to the development of technologies that are adaptable and up-scalable to real scale conditions and to their implementation into mass production conditions. Finally, environmental aspects of the processes should also be addressed.
The developed innovative product functionalities should lead to a remarkable impact for both producers and users, in the following terms:
- Cost increase pertaining to those functionalities integrated into products should be below 10% with respect to the cost of conventional products.
- The improvement in the product performance should be above 20% in the targeted functionalities such as: surface friction (increase or decrease), wear resistance, surface energy, corrosion and thermal resistance, hardness, self-cleaning properties, conductivity, anti-fouling, catalytic properties, etc. Besides, the improvement can also consist in obtaining tailored optical properties including for aesthetic or functional purposes.
- Strengthened global position of European manufacturing industry through the intensive implementation of innovative and unconventional technologies along the European manufacturing value chain.
Proposals should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the Introduction to the LEIT part of this Work Programme.