Alternative coatings to cadmium & hard chromium with potential for 2nd generation developments (Alti2de)

Due to the European directive on chemicals (REACh), cadmium and hard chromium coatings, produced from highly toxic and carcinogenic baths, must be replaced by “green” solutions until 2016, the date when their use will only be possible under severe restrictions and regulations. So far alternatives already exist and are commercially available, the turn to non-critical, fully “green” coating processes and surfaces is far away from being completed. Indeed, most of the substituting coatings contain nickel or cobalt and are obtained by using harmful and allergenic salts which have already been listed as such in the REACh documents. Anticipating the consequences in the near future, their use in the next generation of surface treatments has to be avoided and substitutes with at least equal or even better properties have to be introduced.

The present project aims at preparing the second generation of environmentally-compliant coatings for steel components in the aeronautic sector, which is the most demanding in terms of safety and quality management. Thus, the results are a benchmark for other sectors, such as automotive, infrastructure and transporting, provided that the production costs are kept in mind.

Strategically, it is proposed to develop technical coatings which have the potential to act as substitutes for both critical coating processes/materials by achieving the appropriate levels of wear and corrosion resistance simultaneously. In order to accomplish these aims, different coating processes and materials will be investigated and combined for optimum results:

Cadmium substitutes:

  • Al and AlMn based coatings, produced by thermal spraying, galvanic deposition, PVD and CVD techniques, will be developed as a “green” replacement for Cd in order to provide long lasting corrosion protection to the underlying steel parts.

Hard chromium substitutes:

  • Substitution of hard Cr from Cr(VI) electrolytes on steel components, submitted to wear constraints, will be developed via thermal spraying of carbides embedded in a “green” Co-free matrix, via electrodeposition of Cr from Cr(III) electrolytes and via thin film techniques generating carbides, nitrides and DLC coatings.

The project consortium focuses its work on the development and optimization of coating formulations which benefit adhesion, compatibility and environmental resistance of technological steels. The functionality of the coatings will be investigated using standard corrosion and wear measurements (proof of concept). Simultaneously, ISO norm qualification methods will ensure that the deposition process does not impair the structural behaviour of the steel parts. Finally, an assessment of the developed technology performance will provide an advisory plan for coating manufacturers and end-users (materials/processes/functionality).

A well balanced consortium of 9 European research institutions and associations with SMEs in Poland, Belgium and Germany brings a high expertise level in coating technologies, surface and process engineering, environmental issues, aeronautic techniques and mechanical testing. The consortium from three nations represents the complete value chain, starting from materials over coating technologies to the coating of complex parts and the techno-economic evaluation including environmental issues. The investigations are pre-competitive due to the presently unsolved technical challenges for paving the way to next generation green coatings.

The project outcomes will benefit specifically to European SMEs which are direct subcontractors in the above-mentioned sectors. As a precompetitive project, it provides alternative technologies to SMEs to overcome European regulations and to expand their business to other applications. Moreover, the value is for a wide range of industrial production and, from the societal point of view, the project results can keep European SMEs competitive and support industrial activities and jobs at the coaters and processing industry sites.

Final public report of the alti2de project


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IGF Vorhaben 104 EBG

Das IGF Vorhaben

(Engl.): 104 EBG Alternative Coatings To Cadmium & Hard Chromium With Potential for 2nd Generation Developments (Alti2de)

(De.): 104 EBG Alternative Beschichtungen aus Cadmium und Hart-Chrom mit Potential für die Zweitgenerationsentwicklung (Alti2de)

der Forschungsvereinigung

DGO Deutsche Gesellschaft für Galvano- und Oberflächentechnik e. V.
Itterpark 4
40724 Hilden

wurde über die AiF im Rahmen des Programms zur Förderung der industriellen Gemeinschaftsforschung (IGF) vom Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie aufgrund eines Beschlusses des Deutschen Bundestages gefördert. 

Project Partner

Technische Universität Ilmenau - Project Partner alti2de

Dr. Saša P. Jacob

Dr. Saša P. Jacob

phone: +49 (0) 2103 - 25 56 18
mobile: +49 (0) 151 - 624 626 25 
email: s.jacob@dgo-online.de