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Final Report Summary - FORBEST (Increased service lifetime of forging tools by combined surface treatments)

Nitriding of forging dies is a commonly applied technology to extend dies' lifetime because of the resulting increased wear resistance. Laser alloying or laser dispersing is usually combined with a nitriding or nitrocarburising process.

The FORBEST project focussed on this approach and investigated new material compositions regarding the additives in connection with the base material. The principal project objective was to reduce products' manufacturing costs via ensuring a longer lifetime of forging and aluminium die casting moulds. In addition, FORBEST aimed to develop high wear resistance surface layers so that the dies did not fail due to thermal and mechanical wear. For this scope the influence of laser treated and subsequently nitrided, as well as subsequently nitrided and combined magnetron sputtering and ion implantation (CMSII) treated near-surface areas were examined in detail.

Basic research was undertaken using samples of a simple geometry which were analysed by metallographic research and process layout. Different additive materials were tested, followed by plasma nitriding or nitrocarburising. The main objective of this task was to reduce the adhesion of samples or dies during the forging application. The identified project parameters were then applied to selected dies and moulds which were tested in industrial applications and compared to conventionally treated moulds. In addition, the process parameters of combined surface treatments of new moulds were optimised and adjusted depending on the forging and die casting applications. Finally, the surface treatments and their combination were assessed in terms of technical and economic aspects, a plan concerning the results' exploitation was prepared and knowledge dissemination initiatives were organised.

The project was structured in ten distinct, yet interrelated, work packages (WPs) which undertook the following activities:

1. manufacturing of samples and moulds
2. laser surface treatment, i.e. alloying or dispersing, of samples
3. nitriding, nitrocarburising and CMSII of samples
4. laser surface treatment of moulds
5. nitriding of moulds
6. application of combined treated moulds
7. analyses of applied moulds
8. evaluation of the combined treatment and the potential of the technology
9. provision of a plan for the use and dissemination of knowledge
10. project management.

All project components were successfully fulfilled by the time of the project completion. Numerous meetings and workshops were held between the consortium partners to allow for exchange of information, coordination and evaluation of the obtained results. It occurred that the proposed technique was able to extend the lifetime of forging and die casting moulds by one to three times. As a consequence, the products' manufacturing costs were also reduced. These promising results were disseminated via presentations in various fairs, exhibitions, colloquiums and international journals. Among the participants' goals was to undertake new projects so that the proposed innovation could be further developed and optimised in the future.

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