Hardide Coatings, the provider of advanced surface coating technology, has successfully completed the first of two test phases to approve the Hardide coating as a replacement for hard chrome plating on an application for AgustaWestland, the major European helicopter manufacturer.
The second test phase is expected to be completed by the end of 2013 and, if successful, the Hardide coating will be approved for use on a specific AgustaWestland helicopter rotor blade component. The manufacturer is also considering other applications for the Hardide coating technology.
The results come as the Hardide coating featured positively as an alternative for hard chromium plating for severe service valves in a peer-reviewed full text article* in Elsevier’s Materials Chemistry and Physics, the international journal on science, characterisation and processing of advanced materials. The article was independently authored by valve manufacturer Velan Inc, the Université de Montréal and Notre Dame University-Louize, Lebanon. *Published as “L.Vernhes, et al., Alternatives for hard chromium plating: Nanostructured coatings for severe-service valves, Materials Chemistry and Physics (2013)” and available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.matchemphys.2013.03.065.
Hard chrome plating, which is widely used in the aerospace and defence industries, is soon to be restricted under EU REACH and US OSHA legislation due to the use of highly toxic hexavalent chromium salts. In order to meet these environmental regulations AgustaWestland is conducting extensive search and testing for hard chrome alternatives.
The first test phase confirmed that the Hardide coating is a good candidate to replace hard chrome in a number of areas. Tests showed that the coating has a better high cycle fatigue endurance than hard chrome – a very important characteristic for aerospace applications - and exceptionally good corrosion resistance when exposed to a salt-fog environment. The Company will now work with AgustaWestland on specific applications testing.
Philip Kirkham, Chief Executive Officer of Hardide plc said: “The coating has tested extremely well so far as an alternative to hard chrome for aerospace and valve applications. The first phase results from AgustaWestland are positive and we are making good headway on the application tests. Our tests with other aerospace customers are also progressing positively and we continue to view this market as holding significant longer term value potential.”