Interview with Michiel Eerden, Director of Sales
The seed of the idea
“The idea for this machine started in tribology, where we noticed market developments and wishes,” says Michiel. “For one, the automotive industry is shifting. Diesel is losing ground, while petrol is gaining. And electric vehicles are a sector in itself.”
He continues: “A big trend in petrol cars is fuel efficiency while maintaining power. The result: smaller, hotter engines, at higher pressure. For these engines, the tribological coatings traditionally used for internal engine parts such as piston rings, piston pins and fuel injection parts are no longer suitable.”
Coatings that are suitable, such as tetrahedral amorphous carbon (ta-C) – a hydrogen-free diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating – often need to be applied at a lower temperature. “This increases cycle time, cost per coating and total cost of ownership,” says Michiel. “We designed our Flexicoat© 1250 to offset this development and help our customers get an edge in this growing ta-C market share: with a larger chamber, more cathodes, more cathode power and more cooling capacity.”
A boost to all sectors
It soon became clear that this combination of features would also benefit companies in the tool and decorative sector. In both industries, coating providers are dealing with trends towards larger products and a broader portfolio, and with price pressure.
Michiel: “In the tool and decorative sectors, we are seeing larger products with very different business aspects. In tool, saw blades and moulds are large products. Saw blades are wear parts, coated by tool manufacturers in large volumes. Moulds are longer-term investments, produced in limited numbers and coated by coating service providers. And in the decorative sector, bathroom designs now use larger rain showers and taps. In all these cases, a more spacious coating machine can help keep costs down by increasing batch size.”
A wider range of coatings
The Flexicoat©1250 inherits its technological flexibility from the Flexicoat© platform. Michiel: “Other Flexicoat© machines already have 6 cathode positions, so they can be configured to a customer’s exact specifications. The Flexicoat©1250 adds a 7th cathode position, so customers can choose even more power or range.”
This flexibility gives businesses a leg up in distinguishing themselves. In tribo, the Flexicoat©1250 can provide all the main tribological coatings. Tool manufacturers can coat a wider range of tools or more easily do R&D. And for deco, operators can follow colour trends without switching out cathodes between coatings.
For optimum productivity, batch size and process time are critical. The Flexicoat© 1250 has a 33% increase in loading capacity compared to the Flexicoat©1200. The 7 cathode positions and increased cathode power help reduce cycle time. The increased cooling power ensures that temperatures can be kept low despite the increased cathode power. Michiel: “Especially for ta-C, the cooling capacity means that the usual process time can now be achieved at lower temperatures.”
The Flexicoat©1250 also helps productivity in other ways. “We moved the hinges of the vacuum chamber doors to the other side,” says Michiel. “Operators can now load and unload the chamber in a straight line, without having to maneuvre around the doors first.”
Low cost of ownership
All in all, the Flexicoat©1250 aims to provide the best cost of ownership for the widest range of coatings. Michiel: “I am very pleased with the performance of the Flexicoat©1250. It has the optimum vacuum chamber size for most businesses: it fits larger products and bigger volumes and can still be fully utilised. I’m looking forward to discussing with customers how they can best use the flexibility of the platform. More range, more capacity, or even preparing for future market changes by leaving room for upgrades – all good reasons to look into a Flexicoat©1250 for your next investment.”
Join the launch webinar
Are you interested in the Flexicoat©1250 and do you want to know more what it can do for you and your business? Join the 30-minute launch webinar on Tuesday, April 7. You can register yourself via this link.