Búsqueda de PYME en el campo de los recubrimientos, cajas de cambio y engranajes y aluminio y especialidades metálicas en los campos de la automoción y la aviación interesada en participar en Propuesta del 7º PM

Topic: FP7-SME-2012-BSG Research for the benefit of SMEs

Title: Functional Gradient Material for the Automotive, Aviation and Defense Sector (FGM)


Ultra-light, wear-resistant, functional gradient materials for the aviation, automotive and defense industry.

Recent years have witnessed a dramatic rise in demand by the aviation, automotive and defense industry for new types of light functional materials which comes from the need to increase the range of aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles used in combat, to increase their load bearing capacity as well as to reduce overall fuel use. An added benefit of these novel materials is that through weight savings the end-products emit less CO2 into the atmosphere and can comply with the restrictive requirements of the EU directives, including 2006/32/WE.

Improving performance in the above-mentioned parameters is the foundation for increasing competitiveness worldwide in the aviation and defense industries. This is especially evident in the defense industry. To cite just one example, according to a U.S. Army-sponsored research study, the cost of fuel supplied to warzones is about 30 times higher than in the case of a similar logistical operation directed to a politically stable area. The scientific literature on new materials for industry applications has therefore intensified, especially in the topic of reducing mass (mostly that of robots used to engage the enemy in direct combat) by using aluminum-based alloys.

Current research investigating new lightweight materials for aviation and defense has focused primarily on the means of applying them in the construction of the body of the structure (e.g. the frame). Meanwhile, elements working under pitting conditions are at present made exclusively from steel, and in very rare cases from titanium alloys. Currently, no gearboxes are produced, in which gears are made of low density alloys e.g. aluminum and this is in part due to their low resistance to pitting and wear. Increasing pitting resistance can be achieved by applying thermo-mechanical methods for toughening the material. However current methods for increasing wear-resistance by depositing coatings with large adhesive strength rely on process temperatures exceeding 250°C. In these circumstances, the aluminum alloys end up overageing, in effect lowering the substrate’s mechanical properties which were attained during the thermo-mechanical treatment stage.

Proposal Outline:

The main objective of the Functional Gradient Materials (FGM) project will be to increase the mechanical properties of select aluminum alloys in particular their resistance to contact fatigue, so that the concentration of maximum tension exists in the hardened layer of aluminum alloy, and also to increase their tribological properties by depositing a gradient coating of high adhesion to the substrate using PA CVD. The main deliverable of the project will be a report on optimizing aluminum alloys, especially in the area of pitting-resistance, through thermo-mechanical treatment. Another deliverable will be guidelines for the technology to produce low-friction, anti-wear gradient coatings with high adhesion to substrate properties. The added value of the proposed solution will be to lower the mass of the elements, in particular those susceptible to wear and pitting – e.g. low density gearboxes used in the aviation or defense sectors, which will decrease their friction resistance, increase their load capacity, and contribute to decreasing fuel use and CO2 emissions.

Partners sought and role in the project:


Target SME partners: 

1. A company whose core business is coating deposition using chemical vapour deposition technology- expertise working with PA CVD (Plasma-assisted chemical vaport deposition) equipment and providing clients with coating deposition services; interest in improving properties of coated material.

2. A company which produces gears (or gearboxes) for the aeronautics, defence or automotive sector- expertise developing gears or gearboxes for either the aeronautics, defence or automotive sector; interest in improving the anti-wear, anti-pitting properties of its products.

3. A company that produces aluminium parts- expertise in producing or supplying high-quality aluminium bar stock, including but not limited to Al-Zn, Al-Cu, 2000 or 7000 series type; interest in providing clients with stock with improved mechanical and physical parameters.

Each SME partner will be involved in a limited capacity in R&D work, and will contribute to the dissemination and pre-exploitation effort in the project.


Enrique Machuca García
Tel.+34 955 40 55 78 – Fax. +34 955 03 98 35
e-mail: enrique.machuca@juntadeandalucia.es