A UK innovative company has been commercialising a new coating technique for about ten years. Their patented technology focuses on nanoceramic coating on metals and functionalisation of ceramic surfaces.
Nanoceramic coatings are particularly useful in fast moving parts in environments with high wear or elevated temperature. These have to be wear resistant (sometimes corrosion resistant) and have low friction. The UK company’s technology has successfully been implemented in machinery for weaving and packaging in parts such as shuttles, rollers, discs, guides. Also, marine and motor sport companies have started using it.
There are technologies on the market for wear resistance and low friction such as anodising and plasma electrolytic oxidation (PEO). There is always room for improvement. The patented electrochemical treatment is characterised by a denser structure with no pores and high homogeneity. It also performs better on complex shapes. The resulting hardness (twice that of chrome) and low roughness allow for less polishing needed. Also, no pre-treatment is needed in this environmentally friendly process.
In terms of materials coated, aluminium is the most common, as a substitute for steel. Others include Mg, Nb, various alloys, and early results have been demonstrated with Ti and Zr (biocompatible coatings for medical and dental implants).
In addition to manufacturers of packaging and textile machinery, the UK company seeks manufacturing agreements in emergent fields. These may include aerospace, various titanium products, transport and engine parts (Al pistons, turbochargers), luxury items, but also food and medical industry. The UK company would coat the components in their own plant.
In case of large volume demand, it will make economic sense to shift the manufacturing to the partners. The UK company are open to licensing, to transfer the know-how to the partner company. During the construction of new plant, a commercial agreement with technical assistance would also be necessary in addition to the license agreement. The UK company would have to build parts of the plant as they are rather specific.