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15 November 2022

Madison Heights competence center – supporting Forming & Molding Tools customers around the world

Many factors drive Ionbond’s success in forming and molding tool coating solutions. One of them is our state-of-the-art Engineering Lab in Madison Heights (USA). Read our latest interview to learn more!
Madison Heights competence center – supporting Forming & Molding Tools customers around the world

Supporting Forming & Molding Tools customers around the world

Engineering the right coating solution for a forming and molding tool (FMT) isn’t just a matter of theory. It’s a critical step requiring expertise and real-world support. Engineers at the Ionbond competence center for Forming and Molding Tools in Madison Heights, Michigan (USA), spend their days putting coatings to the test for our customers around the world. Located in the Midwest, the competence center is well positioned to support the strong forming and molding industry in the region and beyond.


Supporting customers with analytical capabilities

“Working at the Madison Heights competence center is never dull,” says George Savva, Segment Process Engineer. “In addition to supporting production cycles, we are very involved with the sales team and their customers. We help them find the best solutions for customer applications. The lab offers technical support in making recommendations for coatings based on input about the application requirements.”

Jessica Owens-Mawson is the Segment Materials Engineer managing the lab. “With our coatings, we can often help our customers find solutions for forming and molding processes that aren’t working as desired,” she explains. “In contrast to other segments, our customers might use big dies that we can’t simply remove or destroy for testing. We can come to the customer and see how the application works. We take that knowledge back to the lab to set up the best testing parameters to simulate the customer’s application. This sets us and our sales team on the right path for success with our customers by gaining practical insight into how our coatings work before they go out into the field.”

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Providing rigorous analysis for new coating design

Madison Heights is the leading Ionbond center for coating development in the forming and molding tool sector. For the development of entirely new products, analysis capability is, of course, crucial. Each new iteration of a coating is analyzed in the lab to understand its properties. Only after the Madison Heights lab team has given their seal of approval is the coating made available in the Ionbond coating centers.

“Development is done by customer request or because we see a need in the marketplace,” says George. “For urgent customer requests, we strive to engineer a solution quickly. For our more strategic goals, we try to identify trends within the next 3 years. If a certain forming application seems to be on the rise, either globally or regionally, we make a plan to address this future need. This is how we arrived at our latest big development: duplex coatings of PVD over nitrided substrate. Certain challenging applications need a much more supportive substrate, and nitriding meets that need.”

State-of-the-art analytical equipment

The Engineering Lab at the Madison Heights competence center is equipped with:

  • Nanohardness testing
  • Frictional property and wear testing
  • Scratch adhesion testing
  • Impact fatigue testing
  • Surface profilometry
  • Sessile drop analysis
  • Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
  • Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) for analysis of chemical composition

The Engineering Lab is fully equipped both to be able to investigate coating properties as well as provide metallurgical analysis.

Empowering the sales team increases customer success

“We’re always at our most successful when sales and engineering work together,” says George. This is something that the lab is actively fostering. Jessica explains, “In the last few years, we started providing new training for sales managers that promotes knowledge of our testing procedures and capabilities. This helps them to understand test reports in more depth, so they can make more informed recommendations for their customers."

When an application is routine, the sales team has Ionbond’s large coating portfolio to choose from. “However,” says Jessica, “often in forming and molding, the tools are so unique that almost all applications require customization – and that requires testing to understand the right solution.” The engineering team coordinates the full resources of in-house production –  including polishing, cleaning, pre-coating treatment, coating and post-polishing- to come to a high-quality solution.

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Dr. Ing. Tobias Brögelmann

Dr. Ing. Tobias Brögelmann

Global Segment Manager Forming and Molding

+31 6 15 28 64 43 [email protected]