Seeking Coating and Surface Finishing Technologies for Metallic and Plastic Hardware Die Cast Components

Background / Description

IPI is working with our Open Innovation partner in UK whose client is an established global manufacturer of engineered mechanical fixtures and hardware components for the building and construction industry is actively seeking innovative coating and surface finishing technologies for current and new substrates to significantly improve on the durability, performance, aesthetics and sustainability of their current product and manufacturing processes.

The current manufacturing process involves die casting of the components which are mainly zinc, although other substrates and manufacturing processes are also employed. These components are then electroplated with copper which makes the surface more uniform, assures good electrical conductivity and enhances adhesion of other coatings. Subsequent nickel plating provides a superior corrosion resistant barrier, and finally a range of decorative finishes can be applied thereafter. However, this combination of conventional processes is complex, lengthy, costly and often results in the generation of hazardous and environmentally detrimental waste products.

The client is therefore seeking novel technologies that would enable them to improve the durability (e.g. corrosion resistance) and performance of the components and to minimise environmental impact whilst enabling them to employ a variety of decorative finishes on existing metal substrates (e.g. zinc, brass) as well as lighter/cheaper materials (e.g. aluminium, engineered plastics).

Technical Specifications

Solutions will be required to:

  • Satisfy end-user expectations of quality die cast decorative finishes such as: chrome, gold, satin, bronze, graphite, nickel and their derivatives (brushed, polished, distressed, etc.)
  • Meet performance durability tests:
    - UV stability
    - Corrosion resistance (1000 hours neutral salt spray and ASTM G85 1000 hours prohesion resistance
    - Scratch resistance (5H)
    - Coating adhesion (crosshatch)
  • Be applicable to a variety of substrates including: aluminium, stainless steel, zinc, brass and polymer composite substrates and components formed by die casting, forging, extrusion, injection moulding etc.
  • Be cost effective and scalable i.e. feasibly applied to the manufacturing of approximately 10 million components annually and deployable globally
  • Reduce the environmental impact in comparison to existing electroplating methods

Solutions of interest may include but are not limited to:

  • Novel PVD technology - especially those not requiring the use of electroplating to prepare substrate
  • Improved powder coating technologies
  • Laser-assisted coating technology
  • Direct-to-metal, UV-curable corrosion protection coatings
  • Alternative process to electroplating (or green alternative)
  • Semi-continuous processes to replace batch processing (e.g. to prevent oxidation and the need for subsequent cleaning)

The client is keen to review technologies and methodologies where proof of concept has been exhibited and which the aforementioned durability performance testing can be carried out to demonstrate improved benefits over existing process. They are willing to review opportunities from any sector (e.g. automotive) and geographical location, as well as to explore all reasonable commercial agreements.

Preferred Business Model

  • R&D Collaboration
  • Licensing
  • IP Acquisition
  • Business Collaboration (Joint Venture, Distribution)

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