The Surface Engineers
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What are the primary advantages of coatings?

Coatings reduce long term costs and increase efficiency. Costs are reduced due to longer-lasting tools and increased cutting speeds and feeds, which results in higher productivity. Coated tools can be run with dry or with minimum lubrication (or release agents in the case of forming tools) saving both operating and recycling costs.

Coatings on mechanicals reduce friction and wear and improve performance and reliability.

How should tools and components be prepared for coating?

Prior to coating, substrates (tools and components) need to be free of any foreign matter, oils and grease on the surfaces that are to be coated, but also in all other areas. The cleaning process is an essential element that determines the adhesion and thus influences the performance of the coated part or tool. All parts are cleaned by Ionbond prior to coating, using a designated process. Ionbond encourages customers to discuss the optimum requirements for their substrates in order to ensure top performance.

How is the surface finish affected?

Ionbond coating processes will typically add a few µm of thickness to the components and tools. Coatings generally conform to the surface condition of the tool and do not act as fillers or levelers. Depending on the process, a small amount of roughness may be added. In such cases where extremely smooth surface finishes are required, post coating polishing can be carried out if required by the customer.

What part or tool geometries can be coated?

The CVD and PACVD processes produce uniform and homogeneous coatings on the outside and the inside of the part or tool, which rests static in the chamber. PVD, on the other hand, is a line of sight process which requires substrates to be rotated in the chamber (from single to triple rotation) in order to achieve the required homogeneous coverage and thickness. Coating of inner diameters in PVD is restricted to a depth equal to the diameter of the opening.

Does coating affect part geometry and material properties?

Coatings add a few µm of thickness to the parts (equal to the coating thickness). The process temperature determines whether or not part geometries and material properties are affected.

Can we mask parts to ensure certain areas are not coated?

The degree to which masking can be performed depends on the process. Masking is generally easy in case of the PVD process, which is a line of sight process, but more difficult for the PACVD and very difficult in the case of CVD.

What is the turnaround time for coating?

Typical lead times are 3 to 5 days. Test parts and samplings take more time as fixturing and process design is required.

Can coatings be removed?

Yes. Ionbond has developed dedicated stripping processes. However, coatings do not have to be removed prior to recoating of reconditioned cutting tools.

Is tool condition important?

Yes. Coatings will make a properly engineered tool work better, but they will not usually improve a poorly designed tool.

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