Trends in the tool coating market

In Spring 2020, Hauzer is launching its latest batch-coating machine, the Hauzer Flexicoat© 1250. This newest machine in the Flexicoat© platform was designed to meet some long-term market trends we see in the main Hauzer sectors of decorative, tribological and tool coatings. In this market report, Hauzer is pleased to share our observations on the market trends for tool coatings.


Trend 1: Larger saw blades and forming tools

Although many things are getting smaller and smaller, such as electronics, the screws that hold them together and the tools to make them, there is also a trend towards larger tools. Saw blades and moulds, especially. The business case for these tools is very different, however. Saw blades are used until they wear out and are then replaced. Moulds and dies are designed for a specific purpose, used for longer periods of time and often reworked to extend their lifetime. Because of new, cost-efficient production methods, the size of forming tools seems to be increasing.

Coating larger objects leads to two challenges: the coating machine needs to be big enough to hold them and the cost per coating goes up if fewer objects can be coated at the same time.

The Hauzer Flexicoat© 1250 can meet both these challenges. The new, larger vacuum chamber can now hold of 810 mm diameter, up from 650 mm. This increased capacity also means that more items can fit at the same time, keeping the cost per coating down.  


Trend 2: Focus on productivity and cost

Bringing down cost per coating is always an interesting prospect, whether you are a coating provider or an OEM coating of your own products. The Hauzer Flexicoat© 1250 was designed with your workflows in mind. For instance, the vacuum chamber doors are reversed compared to our other Flexicoat© models. This allows operators to place the items into the chamber directly, without first having to move around the doors.

In addition, the Flexicoat© 1250 is designed to keep cycle times low. It has 7 cathode positions, increased cathode power, up to 8 positions for cooling panels and an optional, retractable central heating and cooling feature. This cooling capacity makes the machine very well suited for lower-temperature coatings, for products sensitive to heat deformation, and to reduce cooling breaks during coating deposition. Because of its flexible technology configuration, the Flexicoat© 1250 can be used for both coating and nitriding, and for a wide range of coatings without needing to reconfigure the machine.


Trend 3: Specialisation

Specialisation is a valid way to distinguish yourself as a tool coating provider. Some examples are the use of rainbow-coloured ta-C coatings and blue top coatings for cutting tools, or a focus on surgical tools and other medical tool applications.

For a specialist coating service provider, the larger number of cathode positions on the Hauzer Flexicoat© platform – 7 on the Flexicoat© 1250 – can be an attractive reason to invest. The flexibility allows the machine to be configured to your exact coating portfolio, enabling one machine to cover several business-critical specialties.


Trend 4: Increasing demand for high-strength steel and light-weight metals

The drive toward sustainability and reduced energy consumption has also had an effect on the tool market. In the automotive and aerospace market, weight reduction is one way to increase fuel efficiency.

In the automotive sector, the use of ultra-high-strength steels and aluminium in car bodies and engines has increased. Weight reduction is also important for electric and hybrid vehicles, for range extension. Hydrogen fuel cell (FCV) cars will also require metal forming as an important process step. That industry is now focusing on PVD-coated bipolar plates, made of titanium or stainless steel using various forming technologies. In aerospace, a 20% weight reduction resulted in 10%–12% more fuel efficiency for the Boeing 787. Materials such as Inconel and titanium are increasing in prominence in aerospace.

This variety of materials and forming technologies, both hot and cold, requires a wide range of PVD coatings to be used, with or without plasma nitriding. This may require joint development of new coatings with our customers, something that Hauzer has always invested in. All of our coating systems, including the new Hauzer Flexicoat© 1250, will have the capacity and flexibility to deposit these coatings and a range of others.


Conclusion: Flexibility for a large, diverse market

Tool manufacturing is a complex sector, with many smaller and bigger parties each carving out a niche for themselves. For some, the flexibility to be able to apply a wide range of coatings on a certain machine is key. Others become specialists, who configure their coating machines to do one thing extremely well.

The Hauzer Flexicoat© platform supports both approaches. And depending on whether you coat large volumes of the same type of tool, small volumes of specialist tools, and larger or smaller tools, there is a Flexicoat© chamber size to meet your needs. For large products or high volumes, the Flexicoat© 1250 is ideal – with a 33% increase in capacity compared to the Flexicoat© 1200, designed for the optimum cost of ownership.

Are you interested in adding a Hauzer Flexicoat© 1250 system to your coating equipment? Please contact Louis Tegelaers. 

Louis Tegelaers

T. +31 77 355 9753 | M.