Corrosion protection plays an important role in many industries such as medical technology or plant engineering. If, for example, sensitive optics or medical equipment are to be protected against corrosion and abrasion, or if aluminum die-cast housings are to be sealed for long-term durability, transparent plasma coatings are the right choice. They offer a cost-effective, chemical-free alternative to anti-corrosion coatings and can be easily combined with other coating properties such as electrical insulation. The protective coatings developed at Fraunhofer IFAM have already been used successfully for many years.
With plasma technology to long-lasting products
Corrosion and its consequential damage - such as the reduced useful life of a component - cost billions every year. Corrosion protection coatings are therefore in great demand in many areas of application. Plasma polymer protective coatings, in particular, have successfully established themselves in recent years. Their advantages lie above all in a very low coating thickness and high thermal and chemical resistance. In addition, even narrow and very complex component structures, such as those found in heat exchangers, can be coated. Another plus point is the sustainability of the process: Unlike other corrosion protection solutions, the use of chemicals is completely dispensed with.
The process enables a wide range of coating functions
Plasma polymer corrosion protection coatings offer another very significant advantage: they can be easily combined with other coating properties - e.g. adhesion promoters or transparency. In addition to the primary function of corrosion protection, combinations with easy-to-clean properties, with primer functions for bonding, painting and vulcanization processes can be successfully realized. The corrosion protection function can also be combined with properties such as electrical insulation, antimicrobial effectiveness or release properties. In addition, an abrasion-resistant finish (anodizing substitute) of the surface is possible with comparable hardness but increased chemical resistance and significantly reduced brittleness (crack elongation limit) (µ-finish® coating).
The coatings can be applied using all plasma-technical process technologies (low-pressure and atmospheric-pressure plasma technology, LightPLAS coating technology). This enables a high degree of adaptability to a wide variety of products and their production-specific requirements. In addition, a wide range of materials (e.g. aluminum, anodized aluminum, copper, brass and steel) can be coated. Since the coatings must be applied with as few defects as possible, it is necessary to clean the component surface before the plasma coating process. Here, laser cleaning has proven particularly effective.
Application examples of our corrosion protection coatings:
- Anodizing replacement or combination with anodizing refinement
- Heat exchangers
- Plant engineering and fixture construction (e.g. for food production)
- Automotive supply industry (e.g. infiltration-resistant sealing bonds)
- Building equipment
- Absorber coatings for photovoltaic cells
- Music equipment
- Maritime technologies (e.g. bright corrosion protection for outdoor applications such as switches and lamps)
Surface technology is a core competence of Fraunhofer IFAM. Dr. Ralph Wilken's "Plasma Technology and Surfaces" department researches dry low-chemical processes for the pretreatment, modification, and coating of component surfaces. Plasmas, lasers, light and blasting processes are used to make components corrosion and abrasion resistant, adhesive and paintable, and antimicrobial. The focus is always on sustainability by replacing wet chemical processes. The fields of application range from automotive and plant engineering to medical technology and maritime technologies.