Plasma diffusion treatment

A model of the Fraunhofer IST during plasma diffusion treatment.
© Fraunhofer IST
A model of the Fraunhofer IST during plasma diffusion treatment.

Reducing wear effectively and efficiently – Plasma diffusion treatment at the Fraunhofer IST

Diffusion treatment is a thermochemical process for the modification of surfaces in which the desired element is introduced into the edge zone of the component via a temperature-driven approach. In addition to gases such as nitrogen, solids such as chromium can also be utilized. Through the chemical reaction of the elements with the base material, the material properties in the edge zone can be specifically adjusted. The focus is placed on hardness and wear resistance, but corrosion resistance and electrical conductivity are also gaining in importance. 

Specific customization of the property profile - From the laboratory to the application

By means of diffusion processes, various material classes from high-strength tool steel, through austenitic stainless steels, and on to non-ferrous metals such as titanium can be modified in the edge zone. Through the diffused elements, an extensive spectrum of applications is made possible. This ranges from tribological requirements such as friction-value reduction and protection against wear and corrosion on components or tools through to the improvement of the electrical conductivity. The Fraunhofer IST would be pleased to provide you with support in optimizing your edge-zone properties from laboratory through to industrial scale.

Our focus and expertise


Nitriding and Carburizing


Metal diffusion

Selected reference projects


Reference project

Potential of diffusion treatment


Reference project

Nitriding-compatible selection of hot-work tool steels

Plasma diffusion facilities

Duplex treatment plant
© Fraunhofer IST
Duplex facility for plasma diffusion treatments and hard material coatings at the Fraunhofer IST (branch: Dortmunder OberflächenCentrum DOC).

At the Fraunhofer IST, a number of plasma diffusion facilities are available which differ in terms of their size, treatment gases and process control. Thanks to their good scalability, both flat samples on a laboratory scale and finished components for industrial applications can be successfully treated.

Specifications / technical data

  • Substrate materials: metals
  • Flexible treatment temperatures in the range between 350 °C and 600 °C (900 °C)
  • Removal and prevention of new oxide layers through plasma pretreatment in a vacuum
  • Edge-layer modification with various treatment gases (BCl3, CH4, N2)
  • Usable space up to Ø 1000 mm x 1500 mm