The principle industrial objective of the proposed project is to provide European SMEs in the sub contract metal finishing sector with an improved hard anodised coating process, higher in performance and providing a low friction surface. This is to be achieved at reduced capital and operation costs compared to current methodologies. Current anodising processes have remained largely unchanged for most of this century, and whilst power supply techniques have improved to enable pulsed currents to be used, they are unable to provide wave or pulse patterns to meet the requirements of other materials and alloys, such as sand and die cast aluminium, titanium alloys and metal matrix composites. The potential fnishing market for which is estimated to be equal to the current market for anodising services at around 250 M ECU/pa (320 M ECU/pa by 2005). None of the traditional processes can provide a low friction surface. To achieve this, a secondary process, using PTFE, is required. However, this has a limited working life, and can only be applied as a surface coating due to the relatively large molecular size of the polymer compared to the much smaller pore size of the oxide film. Whilst the market size for PTFE coating processes in Europe is around 12.5 M ECU/pa  it is estimated that this figure could rise to more like 37.5 M ECU if the surface performance could be improved in terms of durability and low friction performance. The static nature of this technology and resulting product offering, has provided little opportunity for differentiation in the market, and resulted in a very low margin, low added value service environment. This, in turn, has led to market vulnerability from lower cost based regions, and in particular, the former Eastern bloc countries and Pacific Rim. This proposed project addresses the clear and urgent need to improve the anodised coatings obtained, the equipment and processes used, and to reduce the economic and environmental costs. Innovation in this sector must be forthcoming. SME manufacturers of machined, pressed and cast components that can use the new anodising technology will also add value to their components relative to those who can only supply components with traditional anodised coatings. Tnis could be of greater benefit, much larger than the primary area of anodised services. A number of technical objectives must be met in the development of a novel anodising process, that integrates innovations in the use of: - advanced power supply technology, to create wave and pulse patterns in the process current. - alternative organic acid electrolytes to replace existing electrolytes that have to be operated at or around 2 deg C. chemical additives to lower the resultant surface coefficient of friction. Tnis new integrated anodising process will: - Increase electrolytic efficiency, reducing process time and power consumption. - Increase coating hardness. - Increase uniformity of coating thickness. - Increase the range of materials that can be anodised. - Eliminate the need to refrigerate the process, reducing capital and operational costs. - Reduce the industrial use of damaging refrigerants. - Provide an integrated and durable low friction coating to the anodised layer. These objectives will be achieved by building on successful work carried out in a Feasibility Study Award, funded by the EC, and separate developments by the chosen R & D performers.
Funding SchemeCRS - Cooperative research contracts
3925 BD Scherpenzeel
W1H 5AF 5 London
LE1 9BH Leicester
87600 Kaufbeuren 2
LE13 0PB Melton Mowbray - Leicestershire