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Advanced craino nanostructures pvd coatings enabling mass-manufacturing of complex die-casted alu hybrid components

To improve the efficiency of the manufacturing processes based on al-die casting, thanks to the development of a new generation of multifunctional nanostructured protective coatings, to develop hybrid components made of al-steel and al-plastic for the automotive market.

Tool-die design and manufacturing has been one of most covered areas of research where engineers have had ever increasing interest, this being focused mainly on issues, related to the forging/forming of bulk materials: (i) Forming-Pressure Reduction; (ii) Strengthening the tools; (iii) Improvement of Product Quality through the Forming Error Compensation; (iv) Tool Designs to enable Production Flexibility, or (v) Improvement of Tool Life. These are all useful developments which are meeting well the needs of cold and/or warm forging but not hot forging, and a significant gap exists in the development of advanced tooling for hot-forming work. Despite all these efforts, surfaces are still the weakest part of most forming/forging dies. In fact, it is well recognised among mechanical engineers that nearly 80% of the tool failures in hot forming are due to surface degradation problems. Today, a large amount of automotive and aeronautic metal components are made of aluminium, due to its high strength and low weight. Furthermore, there is nowadays a growing demand in the automotive market for hybrid components such as Al-steel and Al-plastic parts. This market requires affordable products with highly ambitious technical requirements. To meet these demands injection-based technologies are used at MIASA for manufacturing and integrating other processes such as stamping, machining and plastic injection. It must be noted that in order to prevent deformation when the part is still hot, it is necessary to have complex eject systems formed by several axes to push the part homogeneously. This requires a larger number of expulsion inserts which limits the available space for mould sectors in the preparation of hybrid components. Furthermore, the introduction of plastic or steel inserts into the part to be moulded means that it is essential to utilise narrow cavities in the mould, hence making it necessary to optimise the fluidity and viscosity of the molten injected aluminium. In the Al-die casting technology, the pre-heating of the Al to temperatures between 400-700 degrees Celsius is required. It is known that in this kind of processes the tooling elements are held to work in harsh working conditions. The tooling element is an essential part of manufacturing because it significantly influences not only the quality and reproducibility of the component produced, but also the direct costs (tooling design, raw material, machining, etc.) and indirect costs (testing, replacement and maintenance) of processing. The objective of this project is to improve the efficiency of the manufacturing processes based on Al-die casting by developing a new generation of multifunctional nano-structured protective coatings for application on the moulds which will enable the production of new hybrid components made of Al-steel and Al-Plastic for the automotive market. The family of coatings targeted in the project is the so-called fcc/corundum nanostructured CrAINO system, deposited by physical vapour deposition techniques; in particular the 3 most commonly used: cathodic arc evaporation, electrobeam (eb) and magnetron sputtering. More specifically, the project AdCroManu intends to tailor the mechanical properties of these coatings to improve anti-soldering hardness, fracture strength, wear and thermal stability properties. To achieve this goal, the coatings will be designed in single and nano-multilayered configurations, alternating sub layers of different properties, so as to enhance the final mechanical response. So far, the CrAINO system has not yet been investigated in nano-multilayered configuration. Moreover, these types of films have barely been tested on an industrial scale. These new coatings will improve the efficiency of the Al-die casting process. Problems such as abrasive and adhesive wear, thermal fatigue, aluminium soldering, grip, plastic deformation, surface defects and high maintenance cost of moulds in the injection process will be reduced or eliminated. This will enable the design of new hybrid components which are much more complex in shape than the ones currently in use and allow the addition of more inserts of steel, plastic or both. In conclusion, AdCrManu project will try to find a solution to enable the manufacturing of higher added value hybrid components with much more ambitious requirements by developing new coatings to improve the efficiency of the Al-die casting process. The consortium is formed by two innovative companies: MIASA and TECVAC. The leader of the consortium is MIASA, a company dedicated to the manufacturing of high added value automotive components, mainly gear boxes forks and shafts, as well as other engine parts by casting and aluminium injection moulding processes. Furthermore the project will be technologically supported by the research center Asociacion de la Industria Navarra (AIN).
Project ID: 
8 833
Start date: 
01-01-2014
Project Duration: 
30months
Project costs: 
670 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Coatings
Market Area: 
Motor Vehicles, Transportation Equipment and Parts

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