High-performance tool surfaces

© Fraunhofer IST, Falko Oldenburg

Success factor surface

Effective surfaces are a key element of the latest tools, especially in the age of Industry 4.0. The functions are varied: From reducing friction to protecting against wear to reducing bothersome deposits on tools to integrated sensors that supply safety-related data in real time. Suitable surface structuring, treatment, or coating can extend the service life of tools, improve product quality, and enhance process security and productivity.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST offers its customers tailor-made concepts and solutions for optimizing tool surfaces to overcome a variety of challenges in industrial production. Both large scale industry and small to midsize enterprises thereby gain access to the latest innovations in the fields of systems engineering, coating technology, and tribology.

Customer-specific surface and film systems are developed to withstand specific stresses depending on the requirements and application case. Either the entire process chain or only specific elements of it are examined as needed: from configuring the topography to diffusion treatment to final coating. Here customers benefit in particular from the expertise of Fraunhofer IST in the mastery of processes and their combination with a variety of films, making it possible to realize a broad range of film functions. Extensive experience with the production and application of films is supported by application-specific test equipment and corresponding film and surface analytics with highly modern equipment.


Fields of application

  • Steel processing, such as forging, machining, wire drawing, sheet metal forming, and cutting
  • Light metal processing, such as injection molding, die casting, forming, forging, extruding, and wire drawing
  • Plastic and composite material processing, such as machining, injection molding, pultrusion, and organic sheet forming
  • Food production, such as pressing, cutting, stirring, and mixing
  • Pharmaceutical product manufacturing, such as pressing, cutting, stirring, and mixing
  • Wood processing, such as cutting and machining

From analysis to application

Process monitoring with thin film sensors

In addition to the possibilities identified as part of the presented process chain, Fraunhofer IST has extensive expertise in the area of thin film sensors. Compression, elongation, temperature, and wear can be measured directly in the main stress zone of the tools with the help of integrated sensors. Tool development and production processes can be optimized as a result.

Film systems

The deposition of a variety of film systems with a broad range of function is possible using and combining the available CVD and PVD processes, plasma diffusion or electrochemical processes. Examples include:

Our offer

  • Tool damage and wear analysis
  • Component layout and material use consulting
  • Optimization of the overall system consisting of the tool geometry, tool material, topography, surface treatment, coating, cooling lubricant, and work piece material
  • Customer-specific thin film sensors on the tool surface
  • Optimization of the production processes with integrated sensors
  • Tribology and application tests including the development of application-specific test methods
  • Support in applying for publicly subsidized projects
  • Market studies with technology screening
  • Development of cost-effective coating processes
  • Sample and small series coating
  • Simulation of coating and diffusion processes