In the business unit “Aerospace”, technologies and coatings for special materials, such as lightweight materials, are developed for which often no established coating processes exist so far. Within the scope of aviation, applications are mainly concerned with wear and corrosion protection, whereas in aerospace, optical and electrical functional films play a dominant role.
As part of public and industrial projects coating processes and coating properties are adjusted to wanted requirements by electroplating, vacuum technology or plasma diffusion processes and systems are designed according to laboratory, pilot and manufacturing standards.
We put our developments into practice and provide customers and business partners with:
Metallization of materials
- CFK, GFK
- Light metals, such as titanium or magnesium
Coatings for friction reduction and wear protection
- Erosion protection coatings
- Dry-film lubricant coatings
- Hard chromium, electroless nickel
Manufacturing precision optical components
- Super broadband beam splitter with minimal wave front error
- Bandpass filter on 2D and 3D components, such as lenses
- Deposition of black coatings
Quality management and documentation
- Coating analysis and characterization
- Test procedure and product-specific quality checks, such as wear measurements of any desired components
Challenges in aviation
With regard to the aim of reducing aircraft fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions into the sky, weight reduction is a major topic in aircraft construction. If steel and aluminum were once the dominant materials used in aircraft, they are now being replaced increasingly by carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) – an extremely lightweight and mechanically durable material. Metal lightweights such as magnesium or titanium are, furthermore, used in aircraft construction. In both cases, however, a coating is necessary before use.
A second approach to save fuel is the optimization of aircraft turbines. The turbines operate more efficiently at a higher combustion temperature of the fuel, but this causes a very high thermal stress on certain components. High-temperature protective coatings provide important solutions.
In addition to the reduction of fuel consumption, the constant and reliable monitoring of the control units also plays a major role. Today the increasingly complex control units work more and more on the basis of electrical or electromechanical systems and replace electrohydraulic actuators. Thin-film sensors as developed at the Fraunhofer IST can help in this respect.
Challenges for space flight
In space travel a major role is played not just by weight, which has a direct effect on the payload which is commercially available, but also by mechanical requirements. Extreme mechanical loads occur particularly when a rocket is launched.Although some operational functions such as the extension of the solar panels for the energy supply are only needed once, but have to work with absolute reliability. Failures as a rule have catastrophic consequences and cannot be corrected in a rocket in space. In order to meet these requirements, exceptional high-performance materials are needed in a wide range of areas.
In addition, optical components are becoming increasingly important in aerospace. There is a growing demand for high-precision coatings on large areas, e. g. for mirrors or special filters.