A Slovenian public research organization with a 30-year tradition in hard coatings for tools has developed several different coatings to protect cutting and forming tools against wear. The most important materials for hard coatings are transition metal nitrides, but other materials such as diamond-like coatings also used. The emphasis of coatings characterization is in mechanical properties, such as micro- and nano-hardness, adhesion and tribological properties. Some of the techniques can also be applied for surfaces of bulk materials.
Using different coating machines, they offer the deposition of various physical vapour deposition (PVD) coatings based on: Titanium nitride TiN, chromium nitride CrN, titanium aluminium nitride (TiAlN, AlTiN and TiAlSiN), and amorphous carbon (aCN), as well as others upon request. Maximum tool size is limited to 400 mm x 400 mm.
The hard protective coating is distinctively application-oriented, as the main goal is to increase the lifetime of tools in cutting (drilling, milling, reaming), processing of plastics, sheet metal forming, etc. Optimal combination of properties required for hard coatings can only be achieved by understanding the process of coating growth, analysis of the influence of deposition parameters on coating properties, and analysis of coating wear processes. The coated tools and parts have improved properties regarding surface hardness, thermal stability, friction, etc., extending the lifetime several times.
In addition to deposition of coatings, the group also offers advanced analytics of samples related to surfaces and thin films. This may also include failure analysis or consulting for choosing proper surface engineering treatment.
Deposition of coatings is offered to companies under commercial agreements with technical assistance – the company sends / delivers the tools that need to be coated and the researchers apply the coating. Often the characterisation of the base material is done before the most suitable deposition coating is selected.