Project duration: 1 September 2019 – 31 December 2022

Objective

Wear causes huge material and energy losses to industry – there is a clear need for better materials to increase durability. WEAREND satisfies that need by novel and hard-to-copy patent pending material solution. Competitive edge for European manufacturing industry can be created by increasing the lifetime of products by 30% and offering substitute for hard chromium coatings. Use of critical raw materials is decreased by longer lasting products.

The solution (technology)

Wear leads to huge material and energy losses in industry: wear and wear-related failures cause 3 % of the world’s total energy consumption by remanufacture of worn parts and spare equipment. Wear-resistant coatings, so called hard metal coatings, such as tungsten carbide composite (WC-Co) coatings, have been utilized successfully to enhance lifetime of components and that way increase productivity. However, continuously increasing efficiency demands in production set even higher requirements and needs for better materials. Despite the overall good wear resistance of WC-Co coatings and components, the weak point is the current microstructure with relatively large inhomogenities. These current microstructure details, and thereby associated failures of the coatings and the corresponding components, could be avoided by making the leap to nanotechnologies. Nanostructured solutions can provide considerably better properties such as increased wear resistance and smaller surface roughness. However, nanostructured carbide powders have suffered issues like their thermal stability in synthesis and processing. Until now, these challenges have limited nanostructured solutions commercial breakthrough.

Such challenges can now be overcome by a novel and hard-to-copy material approach (patent pending on processing of nano-carbide WC-Co powders for coatings). The material solution has been demonstrated and validated in relevant environment (TRL5) using thermal spray coating technology. In the WEAREND project, this approach, the powder production and the coating technology processes will be up scaled and validated to industrial exploitable level aiming to market introduction within 3 years after project completion. The commercialization potential is high as wear resistant materials, wear resistant coatings and the tool markets are huge. By utilizing this novel material solution, a 30% products lifetime increase (compared to current state of art for hard facing solutions) will be targeted, satisfying the industrial need for increased durability. Due to lowered wear, the new longer lasting products will save valuable natural resources by decreasing the consumption of critical raw materials. Additionally, the new solution can replace the critical production of hard-chromium coatings. There are current obstacles and problems for the production of conventional hard chromium coatings because of usage of toxic and environmentally unsafe chemicals. Therefore, affected companies are urgently looking for promising replacement solutions. Hence, novel material approach will generate profitable business, providing beneficial impact for both environment and health (demonstrated here by life cycle assessment, LCA).

The WEAREND project consortium covers the whole value chain from the industrial hard material powder producer (Umicore Specialty Powders France) to Original Equipment Manufacturers as coatings end-users in their products (Valmet Technologies Oy and SMS Group GmbH) together with powder and coating process developers (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd and IOT Surface Engineering Institute at the RWTH Aachen University) as well as environment, health & safety experts (CEA French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission). The consortium shows good references in this technology field and capabilities to address the decreased environmental and safety concerns as compared to, e.g., reference hard-chromium coatings. Umicore will pilot the powder manufacturing in industrial level, and Valmet and SMS will demonstrate the materials, powders and coating performance in relevant application environments.

Partnership

  • French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, France
  • Rheinisch-Westfaelische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH Aachen), Germany
  • SMS group GmbH, Germany
  • Umicore Specialty Powders France, France
  • VALMET Technologies Oy, Finland
  • Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. VTT (Lead Partner), Finland