The surface modification of materials is widely used in present-day manufacturing to convert low cost materials into valuable engineering materials. The surface modification processes that are currently used range from low cost processes like electroplating used for mass production (electrogalvanized steels) to high cost processes like physical vapour deposition introduced over the last two decades (e.g. ceramic coatings like TiN on steel-based cutting tools). Standard electrolytic and electroless plating from aqueous solutions allow the deposition of pure metals, alloys, and composite coatings. The addition of metallic, ceramic or polymeric micronsized particles to these plating baths allows the production of composite coatings with superior mechanical and tribological properties at a fraction of the cost of chemical and physical vapour deposition techniques. This explains the success of these coatings in industry for systems like Ni-SiC in automotive industry, Ni-Co-Cr203 in jet engines, and Ni-PTFE as low friction coatings. The upcoming availability of nanosized particles (range 2 to 50 nanometers) and the ability to tailor their surface chemistry, e.g., by a plasma treatment at a reasonable cost or by proprietary surfactants, will allow the electrolytic and electroless production of coatings that have improved and even new properties. The use of nanosized particles enhances the synergy between particle and matrix while the particles and cathode and thus increases the degree of codeposition. In this research proposal, a plasma treatment enhances the particle pull-out force resulting in a higher bond strength between consortium of 6 industrial companies will combine their efforts to demonstrate the feasibility of depositing composite coatings containing nanosized particles under industrially relevant conditions, and to evaluate the functionality of these novel composite coatings. The industrial partners will be supported by three research groups having unique background on composite plating. The main objectives of the project are: Introduction of plasma modification of three types of nanosized particles, namely SiC, diamond, and spherical alumina, in view of their subsequent codeposition from electrolytic and electroless plating solutions, Electrolytic and electroless deposition of composite coatings containing nanoparticles based on common plating technologies and considering the state-of-the-art knowledge on codeposition mechanism, Characterisation of composite coatings for particle content, particle distribution, and tribological properties, Transfer of suitable electrolytic & electroless plating techniques to jobcoaters & in-house platers of components, Field testing of the composite coatings on gears, ball bearings, and electroformed microelectromechanical parts, Optimisation of the composite plating practice with nanoparticles in view of specific end-users applications.The project mainly focuses on three applications: the improvement of steel-based gears (increase of service intervals, reduction of noise, increase of comfort for users), the improvement of the resistance to false brinelling in steel-based ball bearings, and the development of electroformed hyperfrequency parts with enhanced quality. This joined action spread over 6 EU-countries of manufacturers of high-tech parts, jobcoaters, suppliers, and end-users is supported by experienced research centers and will allow the development and implementation of the codeposition process and the resulting coatings.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
B70 0BE West Bromwich
15773 Zografos - Athens
3439 MT Nieuwegein