Zinc coating of steel offers the benefits of good corrosion protection and adaption to current industrial forming and painting techniques. Nevertheless, there is a strong need for the substitution of conventional Zn layers due to the non favourable properties
encountered in the manufacturing of zinc coated steel and the need for thickness reduction because of enviromental considerations.
The proposed programme intends to develop a suitable alternative for conventional zinc coatings, whereby the following aspects will be envolved: corrosion protection, tribological behaviour, ductility, weldability, paintability and of course the environmental
friendliness. New multifunctional coatings based on pure metals, binary and ternary alloys, will be developed and applied on large areas by four physical vapour deposition (PVD) processes. These techniques have the possibility of tailoring properties of coatings by depositing alloys in a broad composition range and/ or multilayered configurations with good corrosion resistance, low friction
coefficient and excellent, wear behaviour.
The new coating(s) will provide a combination of the properties needed in the future by the automotive industry, which cannot be reached by the already existing treatments. The new substitute(s) will be extensively tested under laboratory conditions and field testing against the performance of conventional zinc coatings.
The consortium includes three major automobile manufacturers (BMVV, FIAT, ROVER), a company producing steel flat products (SOLLAC, Usinor), a vacuum coatings equipment manufacturer (Leybold), a company involved in coatings service (Breda), a research centre in advanced materials (JRC Ispra) involved also in contractual research for industry and a university group (Heidelberg) specialised in corrosion research, surface modification and microanalysis of metals by physical and chemical methods.
Brite Euram III areas covered by the proposal are 3.B.2.3.S. (advanced processes to tailor existing materials for vehicle applications); 1.1.3.S. (development of surface treatment processes to solve production problems; 1.2.3.S. (incorporation of new technologies and materials into production to minimize overall pollution and wastes), and 1.2.2.M. (development of environment friendly dry coating processes).
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
OX4 5NL Oxford