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Steel Coating Innovation Wins German Award

Thursday, July 5, 2018

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Reserachers at Fraunhofoer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT) in Aachen, Germany, recently took home second prize in the Steel Innovation Prize program, presented every three years by the German steel industry, for their innovative approach to the deposition of thin-film coatings on steel.

The Fraunhofer ILT team's ultra-high-speed laser deposition process, known by its German acronym, EHLA, was first announced last year and won a 2017 Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize, honoring research by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft staff. EHLA is meant to take the place of processes like chrome plating, which the researchers note comes with concerns related to hexavalent chromium. The new process was developed in partnership wtih the Digital Additive Production program at RWTH Aachen University.

Fraunhofer researchers
Fraunhofer ILT

Thomas Schopphoven (Fraunhofer ILT) and Gerhard Backes (Chair for Digital Additive Production DAP at RWTH Aachen University) accepted the Steel Innovation Prize for the EHLA process.

EHLA, according to the Fraunhofer ILT researchers, creates a thin layer with a stronger, less porous bond with the substrate in comparison with other approaches such as thermal spray coating. The process creates a film between 25 and 250 micrometers thick.

The EHLA process allows the use of laser deposition on larger-scale projects than previously possible, according to the team. 

“We can now use EHLA to apply thin layers in the range of a tenth of a millimeter over large surfaces within a short time, while being resource-efficient and economical,” Andres Gasser, the ILT group manager, said when the process was first unveiled.

Fraunhofer spinoff ACunity GmbH has already supplied EHLA systems to several clients in China, where chrome plating is reportedly set to be regulated in the near future. 

The process won second place in the Steel in Research and Development category of the 2018 Steel Innovation Prize.


Tagged categories: Awards and honors; Coatings Technology; Shop-applied coatings; Steel

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