NewSkin ITAINNOVA creating higher performance components - achieving friction reduction up to 50%, double extended life and energy savings on dynamic rubber seals

NewSkin ITAINNOVA creating higher performance components - achieving friction reduction up to 50%, double extended life and energy savings on dynamic rubber seals
Published on 06 Mar 15:46 (about 1 year ago) by AquaTT

NewSkin OITB partner Elias Liarte Richart (ITAINNOVA Instituto Tecnológico de Aragón) presented a paper at the KHK Fall Rubber Colloquium 2022 (Deutsches Institut für Kautschuktechnologie e. V.), on texturing during moulding work carried out in the NewSkinOITB facilities for upscaling and testing novel functional nano-surface and membrane technology. Texturing polymers to create higher performance components. The presentation title is "Evaluating the demoulding process of microtextured polymers“ by Elias Liarte Richart, Valentina Zambrano, Leticia Gracia Grijota, Belén Hernández Gascón (ITAINNOVA Instituto Tecnológico de Aragón). 

The KHK Fall Rubber Colloquium covers areas like new polymers, environment, green technology, extrusion, calendering (process of smoothing and compressing a material during manufacture using heat and pressure by passing a single continuous sheet through a number of pairs of calendering rolls), injection-moulding, compounding machinery and mixing.

In this work, the ITAINNOVA research team present their approach to micro-texturing of polymers – texturing transfer during moulding. Texturing during moulding (TDM) allows for the application of functional micro- and nano- surface textures to components for production in large volumes, as opposed to applying the surface texture in a post process individually (which is cost-intensive and impractical for mass production). 

The ITAINNOVA team have built up a wealth of experience from previous projects (including SoftSlide, Mouldtex, TDM Seals and KRISTAL), and are putting this to good use in NewSkin, where they look at optimising both the moulding and demoulding process. In their work, the team examined the mould coatings, coating durability, roughness, rubber compound and reducing demoulding forces to optimise the TDM process of different textures and have successfully applied their technique to dynamic rubber seals achieving up to 50% friction reduction, double extended life and energy savings. 

Furthermore, ITAINNOVA has created demoulding force optimisation software based on Reduced Order Models (ROM’s) that enables user friendly visualisation of the demoulding force in real-time for continually efficient nano-surface implementation, avoiding defects. As part of their NewSkin work, ITAINNOVA improved this test rig to work with polymers in general (thermosetting or thermoplastic) and to evaluate demoulding forces of final components in the laboratory. FEM (Finite Element Method) simulations are developed if needed to evaluate the temperature profile of the components and the influence in the texturing process or the fatigue properties as examples.

As part of the NewSkin facilities, the ITAINNOVA team bring their expertise in the evaluation of the correct transfer of a texture from the mould to the polymer injected. To characterise this process, experimental characterisation of laser micro/nano textures of the mould, micro/nano coatings and different polymers and geometries are tested in the laboratory, on a small scale. This step is necessary to establish the feasibility of mass production on a large scale and limitations of designed patterns due to incorrect transfer.

Through the NewSkin OITB facilities and services, texturing during moulding can be furthered enhanced in collaboration with other NewSkin partners, like AIMEN, DCU or ML engraving for laser texturing of different characteristics, Funditec for release agents, and LUH Institute of Dynamics and Vibration Research for rigorous evaluation in a wide range of scenarios in their NewSkin test facility for nano-textured/coated technical Components in relative motion. In addition, the possibility of texturing new materials is planned, for example for Ceramic Injection Moulding (CIM) or Metal injected Moulding (MIM), processes based on powder mix with a binder. 

You too can access the NewSkin OITB state-of-the-art facilities for accelerating innovative nano-enabled surfaces, coatings and membranes. Access is by contract, or for free* (by applying to the fourth and final NewSkin Open Call). The European funded NewSkin OITB test bed offers users open access to state-of-the-art facilities for adding, upscaling, characterising, accelerated rigorous testing and/or route-to-market services of advanced high performance surface functionality (such as hydrophobicity, anti-fouling, anti-reflecting, auto-cleaning, anti-corrosive, anti-icing, anti-microbial, anti-friction, hard-wearing, and lubrication) through nanotechnologies.
Figure 1: a) Demoulding test rig. polypropylene (PP) (in white) and fluoroelastomers (FKM) (in black) parts; b) Influence of texturing and coating; c) CFD simulations; d) ROM’s to select to correct texture.
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