in Vol. 16 - September Issue - Year 2015
Proceedings Of R&D Route To Advanced Surface Treatment Solutions
Dr. Marko Trajkovski, Application Development Manager at FerroCrtalic
Twin system robotic shot peening installation
Continuous peening machine for blade airfoils
Internal blasting of water-heaters
Clean media; Media containing 0.08 weight % of lubricant; Media containing 0.16 weight % of lubricant
For this issue of MFN magazine we interviewed Dr. Marko Trajkovski, Application Development Manager at a renowned Slovenian company FerroCrtalic. In particular, he will cover novelties and highlights of the Research and Development Department related to their trade mark FerroECOBlast, especially the latest innovations of advanced surface treatment solutions.
(?) MFN: In the last interview, we talked to Mrs. Mojca Andolšek, managing director about companies' ambitious projects, including establishing of a new robotic shot-peening cell.
(!) M. T.: Yes, it is true. In the last year, we completed several complex, convoluted projects on different markets such as Russian and Chinese, where we see a potential for extending our advanced surface treatment solutions. A number of successful projects in the industry of household appliances further enrich the company. We constantly deepen and extend the network of strategic business partners around the world thereby overcoming the existing and confronting new challenges. We have set up probably one of the largest shot-peening cells in Europe, which in addition to research also enables the implementation of a wide range of services based on shot-peening technologies that are especially relevant for applications in aviation and automotive industries.
(?) MFN: We know that you are a shot peening specialist, and that you have quite a few high-profile references. What about your R&D activities in other fields of surface treatment technology?
(!) M. T.: Mastering shot-peening technology is very important to us, which is why much of our effort has been put into providing surface treatment solutions dedicated to modifying or controlling plasticity of materials. This includes focusing on R&D activities for optimized as well as unprecedented implementation of automated and robotic applications. The versatile range of technologies is, in addition to shot peening systems, also related to other surface treatment solutions that we provide. One of such complex and mainly custom-made solution covers inside blasting of water-heaters. It is not merely surface treatment of boilers; we provide also a complete filtration system with abrasive recovery.
(?) MFN: This is interesting; please tell us more about it.
(!) M. T.: The existing automated and robotized equipment is used for research and development. The effects of the processes on different surfaces are monitored in the laboratory by means of measuring devices, microscopes, flow meters, pressure gauges and roughness measuring instruments, thus providing customers with superior quality and optimum solutions. Essentially, the research results provide valuable directions when developing technologies utilized in surface preparation of metal substrates prior applying coating, in particular, vitreous enamel lining.
(?) MFN: Can you tell us more about your products for surface preparation prior enamelling?
(!) M. T.: Vitreous enamel is an excellent anti-corrosion resistance coating. However, to achieve the desirable quality of such lining, the surface of the metal substrate needs to be adequately prepared, particularly in the sense of cleanliness and roughness. We are especially proud of our achievements in the field of boiler internal surface preparation prior to enamelling, which has contributed a great deal to our reputation as providers of tailor-made solutions. Our "BoilerBlast machines" are example products of our dedication to fulfil user-specific requirements. These custom-manufactured products require special care that includes consideration of specified dimensions and types of boilers, processing capacities, available workspace, extent of automation etc. Our BoilerBlast machines are exceptional as they have a detection station for height recognition of boilers, so the machine automatically detects the type of the boiler and automatically adjusts the movement of blasting guns and centers the boilers. It is not far from the truth to say that each machine that we have delivered so far is in a way, a prototype.
Time-induced corrosion of metal surfaces blasted with clean and lubricated media.
(?) MFN: Wouldn't it be easier if you would make one very configurable machine instead of making many unique?
(!) M. T.: We are rather a company that produces state-of-the-art systems serving a specific purpose and not seekers of an ultimate solution, besides which we believe is not achievable in the world of constant scientific breakthroughs, technological development and other novelties, including changes in law and safety regulations. The BoilerBlast machines that we deliver offer all the configurability that a customer will need. Namely, by defining initial production criteria, certain customers' expectations are set as a goal; for instance, the range of boiler sizes and whether the type of shot-blasting machines will be in an off-line (single-boiler and orbital) or a through-feed inline configuration. Many others, such as processing capacity speeds ranging from tens to hundreds of treated boilers per hour are tuned additionally and can be varied in a controlled manner at the customers' site. We are aware that our customers must quickly change their focus in order to accommodate even daily fluctuations of the market needs. Bearing this in mind, our shot-blasting machines are made accordingly flexible. Importantly, our systems incorporate automatic self-control that allows every pair of boilers to be different. Automation also enables constant quality needed for reliable serial production.
(?) MFN: Are your innovations bound to specific requirements, or do you also tackle more common problems?
(!) M. T.: Of course, besides dealing with particularities of individual customer demands, we are also focused on resolving general problems and drawbacks of surface treatment technologies. For instance, many processes of mechanical surface treatment rely on recyclability of shot-blasting media. The latter, however, can be sometimes troublesome because of severe or specific contamination present on workpieces prior to blasting.
(?) MFN: What do you have in mind? Please give us an example.
(!) M. T.: It is widely known that shot blasting with recyclable abrasives is problematic when it comes to surface treatment of lubricated metal surfaces. Accumulation of these contaminants in shot-blasting media or in the whole blasting systems aggravates the blasting process, which thereby cannot provide a surface adequate for subsequent coating. In particular, 'greasy' metal surface is not at all suitable as an enamelling substrate.
(?) MFN: How do you confront this problem? Do you have any suggestions for our readers?
(!) M. T.: The main idea relies on the fact that abrasive media is crumbled during shot blasting, thereby producing relatively small, but nevertheless relevant amounts of small particles. These are separated from the recycled portion of media and are eventually put into dustbins. Small particles generated during blasting lubricated workpieces can be troublesome, like for instance, they can cause extensive corrosion of the blasted metal surface. On the other hand, with the proper approach, they can be utilized as binders of lubricant substances, which thereby get detached from the workpiece surface and subsequently removed from the system. The heart of this approach is understanding the characteristics of the blasting media as well as the whole blasting system and in particular, the adsorption capacity of small particles generated during blasting. Our potential partners and customers are welcome to initiate discussion on the outlined issues and we will be happy to provide more information once we define relevant system characteristics.
(?) MFN: What are the major benefits related to these studies?
(!) M. T.: The insights provided by our research work have shown that the principle of "mechanical degreasing" can be applied for surface cleaning of lubricated metal workpieces. In particular, applications "mechanical degreasing" approach could replace the use of conventional chemical cleaning. Even more noteworthy, successful utilization of this approach has been demonstrated by surface preparation of metal surfaces prior to enamelling.
(?) MFN: Is your research work solely based on your own R&D department or do you also rely on collaboration with other research centers?
(!) M. T.: Our company is integrated in the network of different research institutions, which is absolutely necessary for efficient and fruitful research activities. We understand that in order to make the most of R&D projects, we must combine research infrastructure, which cannot be maintained within our relatively small company, at least not all of it. Broadening of our expertise is very much related to joint projects, which we manage hand in hand with universities and research institutes that are mainly located in Europe.
(?) MFN: It is pretty obvious that FerroCrtalic has always been known as an extremely advanced, fast and innovative company that is home to first-class knowledge. You provide a broad range of products and yet cope with demands that require very specific knowledge. What would be the best way for our readers facing these kinds of specific problems to get in contact with you?
(!) M. T.: Thank you. Our solutions can be implemented in various branches of surface treatment technology. Readers can get into contact with us through our website or by phone.
MFN would like to thank Marko Trajkovski for this interview!