The Need

Wear and corrosion of materials causes losses of 3-4% of GDP in developed countries and billions of Euros are spent annually on capital replacement and control methods for wear and corrosion infrastructure. As a result many important industries are dependent on surface engineering of protective coatings, making it one of the main critical technologies underpinning the competitiveness of EU industry. There are 2 main techniques that dominate the protective coatings sector: hard chromium (HC) plating and thermal spray (TS). However, HC plating faces a series of issues with most important the extremely negative health and environmental impact leading to the EC restriction of this method for using Cr+6 by the end of 2017. Similarly, recent toxicity studies concerning Co-WC cermet applied by TS have revealed that Co-WC particles are toxic in a dose/time-dependent manner. Consequently, there is the necessity of finding new, less hazardous methods and materials exhibiting the same or better performance compared to existing ones. The PROCETS project will took advantage of the use of nano-particles for production of composite coatings with superior properties compared to those of HC produced by electroplating or to Co-WC produced by TS. These novel nano-particles will be incorporated into existing production lines after appropriate modifications.

The new procedures will be easily transferred by minor adaption to the present electroplating and TS facilities, and will combine flexibility and mass customization abilities, restrict environmental and health hazards and finally be available at acceptable cost. Thus, PROCETS main target is to deliver protective coatings covering a wide range of applications such as automotive, aerospace, metal-working, oil and gas and cutting tools industries via thermal spray and electroplating methods by utilizing more environmental friendly materials, compared to the currently used.

The Project

PROCETS main target is to deliver protective coatings covering a wide range of applications such as automotive, aerospace, metal-working, oil and gas and cutting tools industries via thermal spray and electroplating methods by utilizing more environmental friendly materials, compared to the currently used. This will allow the replacement of the hazardous process of hard chromium plating and WC-Co coatings via thermal spray.

Concept of PROCETS is schematically presented in following Figure



The development and exploitation of the technology as proposed by PROCETS project is based on a series of well-defined objectives. Apart from adherence to standards, a number of scalable methods and properties will be optimized, in order to provide the next generation of protective coatings that will enable the shift to more environmental friendly materials with enhanced properties.

The consortium of the PROCETS project has split the objectives in the following categories:

A. Objectives related to the electroplating process and coatings

  1. To select the optimum combination of hard (e.g. SiC, Al2O3, B4C) and self-lubricant (e.g. BN, nano-graphite) nano-particles to be integrated in a hexavalent chromium free electrolytic bath (e.g. Ni-P, Ni-W-P, trivalent chromium), based on the mechanical performance of the composite coatings.

  2. To integrate the nano-particles in the electrolytic baths and formulate stable electrolytic baths with excellent dispersion and prolong lifetime by using appropriate mixture of additives and ultrasonication method.

  3. To develop a direct current electroplating method in pilot lines for applying PROCETS composite coatings with thickness up to 250μm following the requirements of the respective end users. The method will be 3 times faster than conventional hard.

  4. To deliver pilot pulse current plating lines for applying PROCETS composite coatings with thickness up to 300μm, exhibiting current efficient >70% and superior functional properties by a factor of 20% compared to coatings produced by DC.

B. Objectives related to the thermal spray process and coatings

  1. To develop green carbide powders by efficient mechanical alloying procedure to be used as feedstock for thermal spraying.

  2. Development of a controlled and reproducible enhanced process based on Thermal Spray to optimize green carbide coatings able to be used to replace WC-Co coatings at industrial level.

  3. Development of coatings produced with the developed green carbides materials having controlled and reproducible features/properties.

  4. To evaluate and fulfil application requirements.

C. Objectives related to the demonstration activities and validation of coatings

  1. To set up, integrate the nano-particles and operate the electroplating pilot lines for the application of PROCETS composite coatings in specific components to be tested in operational environment.

  2. To integrate the thermal spray process in an industrial pilot-line and evaluate the life-in-service of the coated components.

  3. Test case of Tenneco – rods: Apply the new developed protective coatings by electroplating (both DC and PC) methods in rods to be integrated in shock absorbers.

  4. Test case of Husqvarna – cutting tools: Apply the new developed protective coatings by electroplating (both DC and PC) methods in cutting edges of links to be integrated in chain saws.

  5. Test case Chromomed – Laminating roller for steel industry: Apply the new thermal spray coatings in rollers to be integrated in laminating machines.

  6. Test case Wienerberger – Scrapers and mixer components: apply thermal spray and electroplating coatings in components of clay manufacturing industry machines.

WP1: Coordination & Management

The objective of this work package is to ensure the smooth running of the project including communication between the consortium and the Commission, so that all knowledge is created, managed and disseminated in a coordinated and coherent manner and that all management activities, financial and legal aspects and other issues are managed to a high

standard and according to the GA terms.

The specific objectives of this WP are:

1. Establishment and follow-up of consortium agreement.

2. Responsibility for the communication within the consortium.

3. Controlling of project advance and time schedules.

4. Review of milestones and deliverables.

5. Organization of regular reports and generation of special reports such as mid-term report, summary report or exploitation report.

6. To overview the financial and technical management

WP2: Define Specifications & Requirements for process and project products

The aim of this WP is to generate data on the overall specifications and requirements of the PROCETS products and to translate these into specifications of the equipment and processes of the productions line of coatings. Also to set the requirements of the end users concerning the protective coatings for their products. The key program target may be defined as the integrated electroplating and thermal spay process for applying the PROCETS deposits that will be used as novel protecting coatings for wear and corrosion resistance. Integrated process is defined as the ability to apply the coatings unobstructed in consecutive batches in the production lines of the surface finishing industry with adequacy in raw materials.

WP-2 has the following specific objectives:

1. Set specifications for raw materials & chemical compounds with emphasis in the nano-particles to be used

2. Set specifications for the electroplating equipment for DC and PC application

3. Set specifications for the thermal spray equipment.

4. To specify ranges of operating parameters for electroplating and thermal spray process

5. To set requirements concerning the properties of developed coatings for specific industrial applications

6. To define the criteria and validation process for the evaluation of the performance of coatings.

WP3: Development of Cr+6 free electroplating process

The ultimate objective of WP3 is to deliver an electroplating process for production of nano-composite coatings of high wear and corrosion resistance for replacement of hard chromium plating. The approach selected by the consortium includes a qualification process among the most promising candidate matrices and combination of them with suitable nano-particles. Two electroplating methods will be applied: Direct current that is the universal applied method and pulse current for production of coatings with enhanced properties able to withstand extreme conditions.

WP-3 has the following specific objectives:

1. To rapidly test on bench scale the possible matrix systems in combination with suitable nano-particles

2. To select the best performing systems satisfying the requirements set in terms of functional properties

3. To provide stable electrolytic baths for the selected coatings

4. To develop methods for the integration of the nano-particles in the electroplating lines

5. To develop a direct current process for applying hard coatings

6. To develop a pulse current process or applying hard coatings with enhanced properties

7. To develop a method for heat treating of plated components.

WP4: Development of thermal spray coatings

WP4 has the following specific objectives:

1. Development of a powder manufacturing process reliable, repeatable and applicable at industrial scale level for the selected materials;

2. Development of a controlled and reproducible enhanced process based on Thermal Spray to allow the production of composite coatings;

3. Development of coatings produced with the developed green carbides materials having controlled and reproducible features/properties.

WP5: Development of thermal spray coatings

The main objective of the first phase of WP5 is to produce the demonstrator coated objects through the processes developed at WP3 (electroplating) and WP4 (thermal spray). The coated selected components will be tested in working conditions as well as in laboratory by advance characterization methods (WP6), and their performance will be analysed and evaluated. Design of the industrial test stand will be developed for studied components in operative conditions. The necessary long –term running tests will be carried out by each end user. If long-term running tests show improved properties in coated parts, then short series of parts will be manufactured and tested also in long-term to study which are the percentage of failures in serial production. This study will give an idea of the repeatability of the whole process.

WP5 has the following specific objectives:

1. To coat components provided by Husqvarna, Tenneco, and Wienberger with composite coating via DC and PC methods

2. To coat components provided by ChromoMed, and Wienberger with composite coating via Thermal Spray methods

3. To demonstrate all the plated components in their operational environment

4. To validate the performance of the coated components

WP6: Validation of coatings

In this WP the coatings produced for the demonstration activities will be tested by a series of characterization methods before and after their demonstration in the operational level. The main objective is to validate, i.e. show the added value of the coatings for direct industrial use. The uptake of alternative materials in industry will be facilitated by a clear, objective and comprehensive comparison of new materials with state-of-the-art, including both functional properties and reliability aspects. This work package only focusses on the technical aspects of industrial selection.

WP6 has the following specific objectives:

1. Establish the pilot-line coating properties in comparison with benchmark materials with relevant characterization methods

2. Establish reliability of the coating processes and the coating properties

3. Separate electrochemical (corrosion) and mechanical properties to distinguish application fields

4. Evaluate the combined corrosion-wear resistance: tribo-corrosion

5. Develop a mapping of coating properties for the various coatings, including benchmarks, allowing more efficient industrial selection.

WP7: Industrial implementation issues

WP7 has the following specific objectives:

1. To ensure the compliance of project activities with standards

2. Follow parallel R&D activities or emerging technologies in Europe and all over the world

3. Evaluate the environmental impact of the processes and products developed in the technical work packages, and the potential uses thereof, thanks to life cycle assessment (LCA) tools and methodologies following ISO 14040 and 14044.

4. Process and product cost effectiveness assessment (LCC).

5. Processes and worker’s safety

WP8: Dissemination and exploitation

Aspects related to the dissemination and exploitation of technology and knowledge generated during the course of PROCETS project are exceptionally important. The success of the dissemination activities depends on the extent as well as the form of the material to be circulated. Project results and all the associated information will be compiled into a protectable, copyrighted form. The dissemination material will have to reach and communicate the advantages and the novelties of the developed technology and knowledge to potential user groups. Apart from the scientific and technological impact, the socioeconomic aspect needs to be taken into account, and appropriate actions need to be undertaken. Apart from a more targeted approach, the potential applications of the knowledge and technology generated will be broadcasted into the wider community. Appropriate actions will also be undertaken to identify and secure sources of funding and investment into post-project actions. Finally, exploitation and market replication based on electronic industry is to assess the economic rationale of concrete measures to pilot scale joining and assembly processes for extra miniaturized multi-materialsa cross Europe, based on the outcomes and knowledge generated in the demo sides.