The Schaeffler Group has expanded its capacities in R&D and the application of coating technology by investing in the expansion of its Surface Technology Competence Center at the Herzogenaurach headquarters. With its new coating and R&D facilities, Schaeffler has created the prerequisites for further growth. In future, more capacity at a central location within the company will be available for the development of customized solutions. At the same time, Schaeffler is also expanding its volume production capacities in order to be able to rapidly meet the rising demand for high-quality coated components.
Technology and market leadership to be further expanded
Opened in 2007, the Surface Technology Center has experienced extremely suc-cessful development. Sales of coated components have increased by over 50 per-cent during the past few years. "Thanks to our targeted and consistent R&D invest-ments we have become the technology and market leader in components and sys-tems that offer our customers even greater added value in the form of functional surfaces," Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Gutzmer, Member of the Board of Management and Chief Technical Officer at Schaeffler, explained on the occasion of the official inau-guration of the expanded facilities.
Today Schaeffler offers a comprehensive range of coatings designed to optimize the surfaces of components and systems in accordance with customer re-quirements, used either individually or in combination. These coatings extend the operating life of components and offer protection against fretting corrosion, corrosion and the passage of electric current, for example. Moreover, they can minimize friction, slippage-related damage and wear. The latest developments even enable sensor layers to be realized.
Trend towards multifunctional and sensor coatings
"There is a noticeable trend towards multifunctional and sensor layers that are de-veloped individually to match the specific needs of our customers," says Dr.-Ing. Tim Hosenfeldt, Head of the Surface Technology Competence Center at Schaeffler. This applies to relatively small batch sizes for industrial applications in the same way as to components produced in their millions for the automotive industry. "The decisive aspect today is that we at Schaeffler consider surfaces as design ele-ments. With our technical equipment as well as our process and application exper-tise, we are in a position to provide samples early on and to develop them to volume production maturity directly and reliably," said Hosenfeldt. Examples include, for instance, tappets with Triondur® coating developed for Nissan that ensure a significantly reduced friction in the valvetrain of car engines. Schaeffler has been supplying millions of these components annually for over ten years now. Back in 2005, the company received the Nissan Innovation Award in recognition of this component. After ten years of zero-defect delivery quality, Nissan recognized Schaeffler Japan with its Quality Award too.
Triondur coating systems: Less friction produced in large volumes
Triondur ,a coating system developed by Schaeffler, is produced with the help of state-of-the-art vacuum technology using the particularly environmentally friendly PVD and plasma-aided CVD processes. Due to very high hardness values even with coating thicknesses of approx. 2 µm, Triondur offers excellent protection against wear combined with reduced friction. This makes it possible to optimize components and systems for a specific application without changing their dimen-sions or designs. They can therefore be used for downsizing purposes, which means that the components offer even better performance with unchanged dimensions or smaller and therefore more cost-effective versions can be used when loads remain unchanged.
In 2010 alone, Schaeffler supplied over 70 million parts with Triondur coating. One specific type is Triondur C. This carbon-based adamantine coating system offers an extremely high level of protection against abrasive and adhesive wear, whilst reduc-ing friction to a minimum. Dry friction against steel is up to 80 percent lower. Even if only one friction surface is coated, the operating life of the entire tribological system is increased significantly. Due to its special coating structure, Triondur C can withstand the high contact pressures that occur in rolling bearings, for example. Typical applications include spherical roller bearings for paper machines and track rollers used in the printing industry. In addition to tappets for the valvetrain, the automotive industry uses, for instance support elements, finger followers or control pistons with Triondur coating. The development of new Triondur DLC coating sys-tems that can be precisely matched to the respective operating conditions, has en-abled a frictioin reduction of up to 50 percent between the camshaft and tappets to be achieved. The power loss of the engine and CO2 emissions were significantly reduced in this way.