Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - RESTOOL (Nano-composite machining tools with wear and thermal resistance)

The main goal of this Project was to develop new coating materials that could significantly help the SMEs to increase their competitiveness, with the following key objectives:
- Development of new advanced materials and a coating technology capable to replace currently used to ensure high wear protection of coated tools.
- Reduce by half the number of costly interventions to replace failing tools.
- Improve by up to 25% coating technologies for deposition on complicated surfaces.
- Reduction in the machining cost.
- Saving by up to 10% on raw materials otherwise wasted in failing tools.
- Increase competitiveness of European SMEs-tools manufacturers.

The technical work over the 32-month period was divided into four work packages.

Work package 1: Optimised fabrication of nano-composites based on nc-TiN/SiNx, such as nc- TiAl)N/a-Si3N4. The first work package included the following tasks:
- Task 1.1: Synthesis of nano-composites.
- Task 1.2: Wear resistant of the composites. The wear resistance tests of the coatings were done in collaboration with by means of pin-on-disc at room and elevated temperature and by scratch test.
- Task 1.3: Primary structural characterisation. All the analytical techniques were calibrated and routinely used for the characterization of the deposited coatings and the investigation into their properties.
- Task 1.4: Thermal and mechanical characterisation. Behaviour of the nano-composites was studied during this sub-task.

Workpage 2: Fabrication of coatings with improved characteristics. This work package included the following tasks:
- Task 2.1: Development of coating technology.
- Task 2.2: Surface analysis. Surface investigation such as adhesion strength, layer thickness, surface topography was performed. Environment-responsive systems were constructed with respect to a variety of parameters.
- Task 2.3: Data base creation. During this sub-task, the super-hard nano-composite coatings with thickness 4-5 µm and nanomultilayer coatings were characterised for the surface, structure, chemical composition mechanical properties.
- Task 2.4: Pilot process. Within this sub-task the description of the pilot process of coating for cutting and drilling tools were finalised and documented in the Quality Manual.

Workpage 3: Technical evaluation of nano-composite coated tools
The third work package included the following tasks:
- Task 3.1: Evaluation of the dry machining performance of tools coated with nanocomposite coatings.
- Task 3.2: Characterisation of coated and uncoated tools after machining tests.
- Task 3.3: Comparison and analysis of coated tools with the conventional tools. The machining performance and lifetime of nanocomposite coated tools against conventional tools under typical operating conditions were compared to establish the advantages and limitations of nanocomposite coated tools.
- Task 3.4: Technical viability of nanocomposite coated tools for machining. The machining results and lifetime of the coated tools against the conventional tools obtained from tasks 3.1 to 3.3 helped the consortium to establish the technical viability of the various coated tools for milling and turning of steel and Ni-alloys.
- Task 3.5: Reproducibility of hard ZrO2 coatings.
- Task 3.6 Evaluation results. The evaluation of the machining of coated tools and their lifetime performance against conventional tools.

Workpackage 4: Economic evaluation, market trials and dissemination
The final work package included the following tasks:
- Task 4.1: Market acceptance trials of coated tools.
- Task 4.2: Preparation of exploitation plan.
- Task 4.3: Economic evaluation of nano-composites. During this task an economic evaluation was carried out. One of the objectives of the Proposal was to significantly reduce the use of rather expensive and usually toxic coolants currently widely used Europewide via the substitution of conventional tools by nano-composite tools. Finally, the economic benefits, of the new coated tools as well as the cost of coating were evaluated and compared with traditionally coated tools.
- Task 4.4: Training of employees.
- Task 4.5: Preparation of operational / quality manual. During this task the data base was completed in order to retrieve best practices related to the new technology.

The main results that were reached during the project can be summarised in the following:
- Superhard nanomultilayerd CrSiN and TiSiN coatings. Nano-multilayered CrSiN and TiSiN coatings were deposited onto high speed steel using unbalanced magnetron sputter ion plating. A range of surface characterization techniques, including XRD, SEM, AFM, XPS, and tribometer was used to determine surface topography, microstructure, compositional, layer thickness, adhesion and coating hardness.
- Oxidation Resistance Superhard nc-TiN/a-Si3N4 nanocomposite coatings. The superhard nanocomposites provide very high thermal stability. Multicomponent coatings are metastable solid solutions which undergo decomposition upon annealing to elevated temperature. The first superhard nanocomposites were prepared by means of plasma CVD. The advantage of plasma CVD is its flexibility and that it provides the best conditions for the phase segregation and formation of stable nanostructure. However, it suffers of the disadvantage of difficult scaling to large, industrial equipment. For these reasons, majority of coatings on tools are prepared by physical vapour deposition. The PVD techniques can be subdivided into vacuum arc evaporation / deposition and reactive sputtering.
- Application of superhard coatings for machining elaborated within the project RESTOOL. Within the extended period of the project RESTOOL, M.T.M. and VF Stampi conducted a large number of different machining operations (milling, turning, drilling) with different materials (different grades of steels, copper etc.) with tools coatings provided by TUM. The results were documented in three reports.
- Refractory and oxidation resistance hard YSZ coatings.

There was a need to develop coatings that are suitable for dry machining at even higher temperatures, in this case high oxidation resistance coatings with a hardness of about 12 GPa would be adequate. The capability of producing such coatings reproducibly would be critical. The hard and oxidation resistance ZrO2 based coatings produced by IMPT using the novel and cost-effective non vacuum Electrostatic Spray Assisted Vapour Deposition (ESAVD) method demonstrated a hardness of 12.6 GPa. The reproducibility of such coatings was also established.

The main conclusions of the project were the following:
- The project developed and provided in-depth fundamental understanding of new advanced materials and a coating technology capable to replace currently used to ensure high wear protection of coated tools.
- Potentially reduce by half the number of costly interventions to replace failing tools.
- Reduction in the machining cost.
- Saving by at least 10% on raw materials otherwise wasted in failing tools.
- Increase competitiveness of European SMEs-tools manufacturers.
- Quality Manual I (prepared by TUM) for SMEs.
- Quality Manual II (prepared by NUNI).

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