Application methods and processes in surface technology

Developments and consulting for the industrial practice

In research and development, Fraunhofer IFAM is familiar with a wide range of application processes in surface technology. In addition, the scientists are permanently working on further improvements. Through close cooperation with both major and medium-sized companies, they have a distinctive knowledge of the common application methods and processes in different industrial sectors. In particular, they have long-standing relationships with the automotive and aerospace industries as a result of contract research and joint project work, but they have also been providing important F&E results in the fields of adhesives and sealants, coatings, plastics, and metal developing and processing industries for years.

The experts at Fraunhofer IFAM advise and support companies in the development, introduction, and optimization of application techniques and processes in surface treatment – starting from laboratory scale through pilot plants to upscaling and robot-assisted automation for (large-scale) series production.

On this page we offer an impression of the range of our consulting services. Please do not hesitate to contact us. We can also advise you on your individual process and plant requirements.

Pilot plant engineering for low-pressure plasma systems


Low-pressure (LP) plasma processes represent individual, technologically high-quality system solutions for the surface treatment of specific products. Therefore, for an economical and process-optimized application, this surface finishing method requires a plant technology adapted to the component and the customer's production boundary conditions.

The scientists in the Plasma Technology and Surfaces department at Fraunhofer IFAM not only develop customized and reproducible processes, but also offer these on individual pilot plants. This means that the processes can be optimally transferred to the customer's individual production.

Application and process technology for coating companies


The interest and need for further development of technology is unbroken among coating companies. At present, the focus is less on investments in completely new plants than on the optimization of existing plants and processes. In addition, increasing environmental awareness and legislation in many countries are leading to the need to replace numerous solvent-based systems with environmentally friendly coatings and resource-efficient coating technologies.

The paint technology experts not only provide advice to pretreatment specialists or plant manufacturers on the optimization of application and process technology, but also offer practical support in the form of pilot plant trials at Fraunhofer IFAM. This includes the development of surface pretreatment processes, coating raw material technologies, and coating technologies. The experts also support companies in the introduction of environmentally friendly coating systems and energy-efficient coating processes.

Controlling pretreatment processes with AI


Fraunhofer IFAM has many years of experience in the optimization of production processes with automation and digitization. In particular, controlling pretreatment processes with self-learning algorithms is an approach that the researchers are currently pursuing and successfully transferring to various application areas.

In the first step, characteristic emissions of these processes, actual values of the process parameters, and the resulting product properties are recorded. In a second step, these data are linked with existing artificial intelligence algorithms and correlations between these data are learned. Based on the knowledge gained, deviations in the process can be reliably detected in real time and countermeasures can be initiated in order to finally obtain a reproducible surface condition even in the case of variable input variables (e. g. in the case of process instabilities or variable initial conditions).

Automation of surface treatment


Automation of surface treatment provides a number of advantages. Reliable product quality and occupational safety, optimum ergonomics, and the ability to be integrated into automated process chains should be emphasized. In most cases, considerable environmental and cost advantages can also be realized. In principle, all surface treatment processes can be automated, even cleaning with liquids, wet chemical or electrochemical pretreatment or mechanical blasting. Fraunhofer IFAM has also developed end effectors for these demanding processes, which can be guided precisely and safely by robots from different manufacturers.

Fraunhofer IFAM in Bremen also has a networked surface technology and painting center. The center comprises two industry 4.0 capable, automated robot cells for the pretreatment, painting, and quality assurance of large components. In addition to the actual pretreatment, painting and quality assurance processes, an evaluation and visualization of the process and measurement data is carried out using AR/VR and cloud computing. By automating the entire process chain and using machine learning, the experts at Fraunhofer IFAM are developing innovative surface treatment processes here.