Innovative Surface Technologies to Make Protective and Functional Coatings on Light Metal Alloy and Polymer Components

F. Hou, C. Goode
Cirrus Materials Science Limited,
New Zealand

Keywords: light metal, surface technology, anodizing, electroplating, electroless, anti-corrosion, anti-wear, drag reduction, optical performance, light weight, Cirrus Hybrid™ technology


Weight reduction of automobile and aircraft components can improve energy efficiency, reduce emissions, and increase performance. Light metals such as aluminium, magnesium and titanium alloys, along with engineered polymers and composites, are essential to these industries, however the traditional coatings these light-weight materials require to provide useful functional properties, can be costly in terms of energy, raw materials, and environmental sustainability. New coating technologies are required to fully enable light-weight materials to be effective and durable in high performance industries. Cirrus Hybrid™ coating technology is a recent innovation in surface finishing that can protect a wide range of light metal alloy components using a sustainable, non-toxic process. The new Hybrid coating technology deposits a thin-film inorganic coating that bonds tightly to the light-metal alloy substrate. The new process is energy efficient, does not rely on hazardous chemicals, and is up to 5 times thinner than traditional coatings for light metals, making it much faster. A Cirrus Hybrid™ coating provides excellent ant-corrosion, scratch and wear properties, along with superior tribological, electrical, and optical performance. A further innovation in this domain is a new, nanocomposite hardening process for inorganic coatings that can be applied as thick, tough coating to polymer components, and can achieve hardness levels above 700HV without high temperature heat treatment. This technology has been specifically developed to provide strength and durability to engineered polymer materials for automotive components, and further widens the scope for light-weight materials applications in industry. This paper updates the art on these new coating technologies and innovations for reducing weight in industrial components without compromising functionality or performance.