Coating materials for the toughest tasks: Plansee at the ICMCTF in San Diego

Plansee will present its impressive developments in the field of ceramic target materials at the ICMCTF (International Conference on Metallurgical Coatings and Thin Films), which will be held from 25 – 29 April 2016.

The wide-spread commercial use of thin, wear-resistant PVD (physical vapor deposition) coatings in cutting and forming operations has now entered into its fourth decade. Beginning with simple nitrides and carbo-nitrides of titanium, one can now find coatings with a wide composition variation of titanium-aluminum, aluminum-chromium, and many ternary materials, like TiAlSi or AlCrSi.

In automotive applications, where one wants to reduce the friction, Cr, graphite, WC and MoCu materials are found. Those who produce these coatings need targets manufactured from the appropriate materials from a reliable supplier. Some of these materials, like MoCu, are insoluble with each other, so one cannot make alloys from them. To overcome this limitation, Plansee uses our powder-metallurgical knowledge and expertise.

One of the areas where PVD coatings are beginning to see more integration is in aerospace applications, for erosion control. Turbine blades in the compressor section of jet engines are subjected to debris at high velocity, which blunts/erodes the trailing edges of the blades. This occurs especially if the engine operates in any region where dust or sand is present. This damage reduces the operating efficiency, increases fuel consumption, and increases the frequency of maintenance and/or replacement. Hard coatings similar to the ones known from the tooling industry, for example TiN, TiAlN, CrN, AlCrN, can help to reduce abrasion significantly in this application field.

In the combustion/exhaust gas section of a turbine, oxidation resistance and thermal protection play an important role for the lifetime of a jet engine. Here MCrAlY (where “M” is a metal, and could be Ni, Co, or a combination) coatings with sophisticated architectures have long been used. Typically applied as thermal-spray coatings, those have to withstand the tremendous heat and corrosion wear found at the combustion side. By using thinner but more dense and adhesive MCrAlY PVD coatings with even more exotic compositions much longer periods between maintenance could be expected.

Plansee is strongly supporting its customers from proto-typing to production scale with very specific targets needed for aerospace PVD coatings.

Spark Plasma Sintering: Economic production process creates maximum flexibility
In order to achieve rapid proto-typing on a production scale, Plansee installed the world's most modern and largest SPS (Spark Plasma Sintering) system at our manufacturing site in Lechbruck/Germany in April 2013. This makes it possible to create production-scale prototypes of these complex targets even faster and more economically than before. With it, we have expanded our portfolio of target geometries and customer-specific material compositions. The system is used for runs of all sizes through to fully-automated serial manufacture. This allows our customers to test small quantities of targets with slightly different compositions, knowing that the process to manufacture large volumes of targets is already established, and these targets will not need re-qualification prior to production. Its near-net shape production capability also saves material, thereby further reducing the cost to the customer.

Another advantage of the SPS technology is the quite short processing time for sintering of powders even at very high temperatures in the range of 2200°C. Therefore the technology is quite useful to produce various Titanium- and Chromium based materials like Ti-Si and Cr-Si, Ti-B and Cr-B, Ti-V and Cr-V or even mixtures of them in a wide range of compositions. With our high speed SPS process we can avoid recrystallization or formation of intermetallic phases and therefore reduce brittleness of the target materials. Using near net shape tools and the advantages of sequential filling of the tools with powders, special designs of targets with increased strength have been developed. Crucial for manufacturing of target materials like borides, carbides or even metal-doped graphite is a very high sintering temperature, where again SPS technology enables us to open a new horizon. Today those materials are of highest R&D interest for many wear resistant and tribological applications.

Would you like to find out more? Meet our experts at the 43rd ICMCTF! They’ll be at the conference 25 – 29 April, 26 -27 April in the Grand Exhibit Hall, booth 226.

You can get more information about our ceramic arc cathodes at: