Hardide Coatings awarded two major UK aerospace funding grants

The projects involve the development of a grinding and super-finish technology for the Hardide coating and development of ultra-low temperature coating that will increase the range of aerospace substrate materials suitable for Hardide coating.
Today, Oxfordshire-based Hardide Coatings of Hardide plc in the United Kingdom (UK) was awarded funding from the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP) aerospace initiative. Hardide Coatings – which develops, manufactures and applies its proprietary Hardide-A coating – will use the funding to further develop two projects related to coating technology for aircraft components.

The first project –– is to develop a grinding and super-finish technology for the Hardide-A coating (“A” for “aerospace”). Hardide Coatings developed Hardide-A – a low-temprature chemical vapor deposition tungsten carbide coating – for the aerospace and defense industry as a replacement for toxic hard-chrome plating (HCP).

HCP has been a mainstay of industrial coating in aerospace, heavy equipment, automotive, and various other industries where extreme operating environments require corrosion- and wear-resistant coatings. An example of this would be in hydraulic aircraft landing gear or wing flap actuators where leak-tight seals are present. Corroded metal finishes can accelerate seal degradation and affect reliability, downtime, and maintenance costs.

HCP was banned in 2017 under European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulations because the hexavalent chrome salts used to produce HCP pose extreme health and environmental hazards. The substance is also highly regulated by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Hardide-A has less environmental impact, possesses versatile geometric compatibility, corrosion and fatigue resistance. These are big advantages over alternatives like high-velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) coating, cadmium plating, and other coating processes where spray coatings cannot be used. Additionally, Hardide-A can be used to accurately coat interior surfaces and complex geometries. This enabling technology is proven to offer dramatic improvements in component life, particularly when applied to components that operate in very aggressive environments, like actuators, pistons, bushes, bearings, turbine blades, valves, landing gear, pins, hooks, and latches. The result saves airline operators cost through reduced downtime and increased operational efficiency. 

Hardide Coatings’ project to develop grinding and super-finish technology is supported by Airbus of Toulouse, France; Perfect Bore Manufacturing Ltd of Andover, UK; and Engis (UK) Ltd. of Oxfordshire.

The second project is to develop the processing of an ultra-low temperature coating that will increase the range of aerospace substrate materials suitable for the Hardide coating process. Airbus, Leonardo Helicopters of Farnborough, UK are end-users and Perfect Bore Manufacturing and Westmoreland Mechanical Testing and Research Ltd. of Banbury, UK are support partners in this project.

“These grant awards were made after a rigorous application process and we will be working closely on the projects with our end-user customers. Both projects have the potential to expand significantly Hardide Coatings’ aerospace business, widening the range of aircraft components and substrate materials suitable for our coating technology,” says Philip Kirkham, CEO of Hardide Coatings.

Aerospace customers include Airbus, BAE Systems of Farnborough, UK, and Leonardo. Customers in other sectors include leading blue chip companies operating in oil and gas exploration and production, valve and pump manufacturing and precision engineering industries.

Both projects are commencing on September 1, 2018 and will each take 18 months to complete.

NATEP is a UK-wide, £14.4 ($18.6) million program established to mature 40 wide-ranging aerospace technologies in the UK aerospace supply chain. NATEP’s technology development list includes focuses like composites, design and modeling solutions, software, electronics, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), big data, ground support, and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO).

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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include 'literally anything that has to do with space,' past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology. And also sportscars.
Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.
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