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The UK arm of an international manufacturer of engineered mechanical fixtures and hardware components is seeking innovative materials and methods for coating and finishing. Solutions may include either coatings with improved durability, performance, aesthetics and sustainability, or alternative processes. Demonstrable solutions are sought from academia and industry dealing with materials science, under licensing or technical cooperation agreement.
The UK arm of an international manufacturer of engineered mechanical fixtures and hardware components is seeking innovative materials and methods for coating and finishing.
The current manufacturing process involves die casting of the components which are mainly zinc, although other substrates and manufacturing processes are also employed. These components are then electroplated with copper which makes the surface more uniform, assures good electrical conductivity and enhances adhesion of other coatings. Subsequent nickel plating provides a superior corrosion resistant barrier, and then a range of decorative finishes can be applied thereafter. This combination of conventional processes however, is complex, lengthy, costly and often results in the generation of hazardous and environmentally detrimental waste products.
The company is therefore seeking a novel process and technology to improve the mechanical, functional and decorative finishes of their current components, or allow the use of alternative (lighter/cheaper) materials (e.g. aluminium, brass, engineered plastics) whilst minimising hazardous waste and lowering production costs. Solutions will be required to: • Satisfy end-user expectation of quality die cast decorative finishes such as: chrome, gold, satin, bronze, graphite, nickel and their derivatives (brushed, polished, distressed, etc.);
• Meet performance durability tests: UV stability, corrosion resistance (1000 hours neutral salt spray and ASTM G85 1000 hours prohesion resistance); scratch resistance (5H) and coating adhesion (crosshatch);
• Be applicable to a variety of substrates including: aluminium, stainless steel, zinc, brass and polymer composite substrates and components formed by die casting, forging, extrusion, injection moulding etc.;
• Be cost effective and scalable i.e. feasibly applied to the manufacturing of circa 10 million components annually and deployable globally;
• Reduce the environmental impact in comparison to existing electroplating methods.
Industry and academia with such solutions are sought for technical cooperation or licensing agreements.
Solutions of interest may include but are not limited to:
• Novel PVD technology - especially those not requiring the use of electroplating to prepare substrate;
• Improved powder coating technologies;
• Laser-assisted coating technology;
• Direct-to-metal UV-curable corrosion protection coatings;
• Alternative process to electroplating (or green alternative);
• Semi-continuous processes to replace batch processing (e.g. quicker prevents oxidising and need for subsequent cleaning).
Type of partner sought: industry and academia.
- Specific area of activity of the partner: chemistry, metallurgy and materials science.
- Task to be performed by the partner sought: industry and academia are invited to send non-confidential description of demonstrable solutions that are possible to scale up to a volume of millions.