Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2017

A way out of the chromium ban

Economical alternative to chromium(VI)

EHLA developers Thomas Schopphoven, Gerhard Maria Backes and Andres Gasser (from the left).
© Photo Piotr Banczerowski / Fraunhofer

EHLA developers Thomas Schopphoven, Gerhard Maria Backes and Andres Gasser (from the left).

To prevent components from becoming corroded or worn, they are often coated using hexavalent chromium. Starting in September of 2017, though, this will only be permitted with exceptions. The extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA) developed by Fraunhofer and RWTH researchers offers an economic alternative for the first time ever.

Dr.-Ing. Andres Gasser and Dipl. Thomas Schopphoven from the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and their colleague Dipl.-Ing. Gerhard Maria Backes from the Chair for Digital Additive Production of the RWTH Aachen University have now developed an economical alternative: extreme high-speed laser material deposition or EHLA for short. This process not only offers companies a way out of the ban dilemma, but also provides significant advantages to hard chromium plating: No chemicals are used – which makes the process very environmentally friendly. The resulting layers are dense and can therefore protect the component from corrosion and wear more effectively. In addition, the coating is bonded to the base material in a material-locking manner so it cannot flake off, unlike the case with hard chromium plating. Various materials can be used for the new coatings, such as iron, nickel and cobalt-based alloys.

Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2017

This prize has been awarded by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft every year since 1978, in recognition of outstanding scientific work by members of its staff leading to the solution of application-oriented problems. This year, four prizes will be awarded – each valued at 50,000 €.