VOL. 16 May ISSUE YEAR 2015

Good Vibrations

in Vol. 16 - May Issue - Year 2015
Surface Quality Is Becoming Increasingly Important!
Decorative surface for the automotive industry

Decorative surface for the automotive industry

Decorative surface for fittings

Decorative surface for fittings

Functional surface for food technology

Functional surface for food technology

Gear wheel after surface finishing

Gear wheel after surface finishing

This is nothing new. During a trip, you find out that you booked the wrong hotel or rented the wrong car. Eyes or buttocks very quickly fall victim to bad surfaces.

Please pardon me! Not that you think that I was writing this column under the influence of alcohol. I will explain what my concern is all about.

First, regarding the eyes: For whatever reasons you ended up in a lousy hotel and while standing at the washbasin in the bathroom, you notice that the surface coating of the bathroom fittings has peeled off, revealing the underlying base material. You may think: "What's this rubbish!" or "What kind of cheap material has been used here!" And you will look around the room extremely sceptically. You will keep bad memories of both the hotel and the fittings manufacturer (if the logo is still decipherable).

Now, regarding the buttocks: You rented a car that the car rental had advertised as the ultimate hot deal. After a couple of hundred kilometres, you know why. Your buttocks hurt and you feel an unpleasant tingling sensation in your hands. After some time, the minimal engine vibrations that were imperceptible in the beginning have turned into an unpleasant travel companion. You start cursing the car and won't keep any good memories of neither the car, its manufacturer, nor the car rental company. You might know it or maybe not, but in both cases you have fallen victim to surfaces of inferior quality.

What exactly does this have to do with the quality of surfaces?

Let's first take a look at the bathroom fittings. In this case, the surface even fulfils a double function. On the one hand, it has to protect the fitting itself, for instance, from the raging cleansing power of your Scotch-Brite sponge. The surface must be durable, hardwearing, abrasive-resistant and ideally, it should require little maintenance. On the other hand, it also must look attractive, of course. After all, there are thousands of alternatives and the fittings manufacturer will want to market his product as well as possible while offering the buyer the chance to create an attractive bathroom. This is why the manufacturer needs to develop and implement a high-quality, stable and reproducible production process in order to design a functional and decorative surface. This is the essential task, and the above-described scenarios give a good example of the consequences that should be otherwise feared.

Something similar can be observed in case of the car or with any other technical means of transportation. Many mechanical parts, which are integrated into the driving units of vehicles, be it cars, motorbikes, trains or bicycles, have functional surfaces. These functional surfaces are in contact with the surfaces of other components, run with each other, move towards each other, slide on top of each other, interlock..... These can be bearings, cogwheels, shafts, cams, etc. The surface of these functional parts has a significant impact on how well, smooth, noise-free and vibration-free an engine, a gear or any other drive units run.

Fortunately, more and more importance is given to the quality of the surface, no matter if it is decorative or functional. Hundreds of examples from all areas of life illustrate this. For many reasons, products with high-quality surfaces can be better marketed and sold at higher prices. They are more durable, more hardwearing, optically more pleasing and attractive, and give less problems when used continuously.

How is this related to the manufacturing industry? In the past decades, surface technology was a complex field. Modern and intelligently operated methods offer the right solution for any area of application and this is where the wheat is separated from the chaff. Nowadays, far-sighted companies give surface quality the importance required for the production of successful and technically sophisticated products. Companies that only think short-term, act contrary to this.

You have certainly understood how quickly a user or beholder of a product can fall victim to bad surfaces. Of course, these are bold and simple examples; however, an attentive observer of his surroundings will have to face surface quality every day and in all areas of life. He will have pleasant experiences, as many products have perfect surfaces. He won't notice anything negative as many products have good and functional surfaces which are not perceived as being "unpleasant". However, as demonstrated earlier on and in a slightly provocative manner, he will also notice surfaces of inferior quality or beauty.

I hope you will encounter mostly good and beautiful surfaces!

by Dirk Gather, Contributing Editor MFN and General Manager of GZO GmbH, Germany

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