Advanced environmentally friendly surface treatment for aluminium and aluminium alloys used in the aircraft industry
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Advanced Materials
The innovative technological solution introduced shot peening and dry ice cleaning into the pre-treatment technology to enhance the mechanical properties and corrosion protection obtained with ZrCC. These technologies are not only low-cost, easy to use, and non-hazardous to the environment but also reduce the reliance on raw materials. The XPS, SEM/EDS, and TOF-SIMS data obtained during surface characterisation before and after various surface treatment explain the mechanism of the surface cleaning process with dry ice and subsequent formation of ZrCC on the aluminium surface. Electrochemical measurements enabled the characterisation and understanding of the corrosion process to determine the quality of the surface without and with pre-treatment.
The evaluation of chemical composition, morphology, roughness, micro-hardness, and wettability was carried out to characterise the physical and chemical properties of the surface. Corrosion tests in the salt spray chamber were performed under the industrial standards. All those results aimed to confirm the production quality of the pre-treated and protected surfaces.
Key success factors
The key success factor of this project was the multidisciplinarity of the company and KET TCs' laboratories. All groups have had previous experiences with technical issues in the aircraft industry, especially in the surface pretreatment of aluminium alloys. However, the problem could be solved in its complexity only when approached in a multidisciplinary manner.
A systematic approach gave many important quantitative and qualitative results to consider the possibility of the use of environmentally acceptable advanced surface pretreatments for further development as a part of novel corrosion protection technology. The SME needs to outsource laboratories with specific high-tech technology for developing new technologies to remain competitive on the market and fulfil all environmental restrictions. The collaboration between the Ferročrtalič and KET TCs will continue in the future.