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Nano-Chemical Surfaces Hardening


Development of environmentally friendly low-temperature thermo-chemical nanotechnologies for obtaining high performance thin films on ready-made machine parts and tools

Tech Area / Field

  • MAT-ALL/High Performance Metals and Alloys/Materials
  • MAN-MCH/Machinery and Tools/Manufacturing Technology
  • MAT-SYN/Materials Synthesis and Processing/Materials

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Belorussian National Technical University, Belarus, Minsk

Supporting institutes

  • National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Belarus / Physical-Technical Institute, Belarus, Minsk


  • Northumbria University / Advanced Materials Research Institute, UK, Newcastle upon Tyne\nInstituto de Soldadura e Qualidade, Portugal, Porto Salvo\nSlovak University of Technology / Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Slovakia, Bratislava\nArgonne National Laboratory/Computational Physics & Hydrodynamics, USA, IL, Argonne\nTecnologia e Engenharia de Materials, S.A., Portugal, Coimbra\nAmerican Manufacturing and Equipment, Inc. / Cincinnati Retread Systems, USA, OH, Fairfield

Project summary

The project objective is to develop a simple, high-performance and ecologically friendly nanotechnologies for deposition of thermo-chemical film coatings with high working properties on finished machine parts, cutting and die tools made from steels, hard alloys and diamond-containing materials.

Topicality and the state-of-the-art in the field. The problem of improvement of service durability of tools and machine parts used in various spheres of peaceful life and industry will always be topical due to the following reasons: (i) technological progress is aimed at cost reduction of the produce, which can be attained only by application of high-performance tools and processes, and (ii) short service life of machine parts and tools requires their frequent replacement and repair. In order to solve this problem, various deposition methods of wear-resistant and corrosion-resistant coatings have been developed. Among best foreign analogues, noteworthy are plasma-activated CVD (chemical vapor deposition) processes which are used for obtaining thin films of refractory compounds on the surface of items without a substantial change of their outer size (M.G.Hocking, V.Vasantasree, P.S.Sidky, Metallic and Ceramic Coatings: Production, Properties and Applications, London, New York, 2000, 518 pp.). But this process is power and labor consuming, not very productive and requires the use of high-priced vacuum facilities and expensive consumables. Thin films can be deposited only on outer surfaces of the parts but not on the inner surfaces/cavities. Besides, a minimum temperature of the process is 300-350 oC and thus this method can not be applied to machine parts and tools made from not-heat-resistant structural and tool steel grades for reasons of their strength loss. Also, this method is not applicable to ready-made diamond tools. However, a versatile, simple, high-performance and ecologically friendly method that could significantly increase wear and corrosion resistance of ready-made machine parts and tools made from steel, hard alloys and diamond-containing materials has not been developed yet.

Impact of the proposed project on the progress in the area. Carrying out the project will bring about

  • saving of energy, materials and labor due to lower consumption of tools and machine parts with longer service life,
  • cost reduction of manufactured products due to increased productivity of tools and processes,
  • improved quality and competitiveness of tools and machine parts on the world market,
  • decreased environmental pollution due to a non-hazardous, nonwaste technology performed in confined space.

Project Participants are high-skilled specialists at the Belarussian National Technical University (BNTU) and Physical-Technical Institute, National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (PTI NASB). The main part of the research team consists of weapon scientists. The took part in R&D connected with the development of high-temperature and armor composites and equipment for missile technologies. The BNTU researchers are involved in development of new technologies of low-temperature thermo-chemical treatment (LTTT), manufacturing and full-scale testing of tools and machine parts after LTTT. PTI scientists are responsible for investigation of fine structure and properties of samples after LTTT. The BNTU and PTI teams will jointly participate in optimization of the LTTT processes.

Expected results of research. Fulfilling four main tasks of the project will yield the following results:

  • · new methods of low-temperature thermo-chemical treatment (LTTT) of machine parts and tools;
  • · optimal process parameters and compositions of water suspensions for LTTT of machine parts and tools for attaining maximal service properties;
  • · technical documentation on LTTT of machine parts and tools;
  • · pilot production, samples of machine parts and tools subjected to LTTT and positive results of full-scale testing.

New technologies will permit:
  • to improve wear-resistance of machine parts and tools by the factor of 1.5 to 4.5,
  • to improve corrosion resistance of machine parts and tools by the factor of 1.5 to 2.0,
  • to increase cutting regimes for cutting tools by up to 30%;
  • to retain up to 70% of initial wear-resistance of a hardened tool after regrinding;
  • to retain initial size and shape of parts and tools after low-temperature treatment.

Advantages of the proposed method over the known technologies for coatings deposition:
  • simplicity of the process because it can be implemented on standard equipment and does not require vacuum nor protective atmosphere,
  • energy efficiency since the process does not require supply of electric current to the processed articles;
  • high productivity because of the opportunity to process complex-shape or large-size items quickly and in large quantity by using a chemical bath of an arbitrary size;
  • versatility of the process because it can be applied to (i) different types of cutting and stamp tools and machine parts, (ii) various grades of steels, hard alloys and diamond-containing materials used for manufacturing tools and machine parts, and (iii) obtaining thin films on the surfaces of internal cavities of the articles;
  • lowering production costs because of low consumption of chemical components, namely (a) single usage of 1 kg powder mixture whose cost is $400-600 permits processing 50-80 kg of various tools and machine parts with product worth of $800-20,000, (b) a working bath for chemical treatment can be used many times.

As a result of the project implementation, we intend to patent the developed technologies in industrial countries.

Application of the project results. The research will results in the development of a new group of nanotechnologies of low-temperature thermo-chemical treatment of machine parts and tools and rapid application of this process in many areas of peaceful activity. Manufacturing application virtually does not require financial expenses. Use of new hardening nanotechnologies in industry will yield Return-on-Investment of $2-7 per dollar.

Meeting ISTC goals and objectives. The project meets the following ISTC goals and objectives:

  • weapon scientists and engineers will redirect their talents to peaceful activity by developing new wear and corrosion resistant coatings which are required in engineering industry, motor industry, power engineering, medicine, civil engineering, agriculture and common use,
  • the project participants will integrate into international scientific community,
  • the applied research and technology development will be performed for peaceful purposes in order to ensure significant savings of energy, materials and labor resources,
  • the project participants will solve an internationally important technical problem, which also has an ecological significance: use the developed processes will contribute to environment protection and reduction of fire hazard,
  • implementation of the project will facilitate the transition of its participants to the market-based economy, which meets social needs by developing competitive, energy saving and ecologically friendly technologies for prolongation of service life of tools and machine parts in peaceful industry.

Scope of activities. The project duration is 2.5 years and its labor expenditure is 3,655 man-days.

The project includes 4 interrelated tasks:

  • comparative analysis and elaboration of new methods of low-temperature thermo-chemical treatment imparting a complex of high mechanical properties to steels and tool materials,
  • optimization of compositions and regimes low-temperature thermo-chemical treatment of steel and tool materials with respect to their structure and mechanical properties,
  • development of novel technologies of low-temperature thermo-chemical treatment of parts and tools,
  • evaluation testing of the developed LTTT technologies in industrial conditions and arrangement of pilot production.

The organizations participating in implementation of the project are the following:
  • BNTU will perform tasks 1, 2, 3 and 4
  • PTI will perform task 1,2

Role of foreign collaborators. The project is supported by foreign collaborators from the United Kingdom, USA, Portugal and Slovakia.

The collaborators’ participation in implementation of the project envisages:

  • discussion and joint publication of the project results,
  • joint participation in conferences and seminars,
  • exchange visits,
  • joint patenting of the developed technologies.

Technical approach and methodology. One of the developed low-temperature nano-thermo-chemical treatment methods has been preliminary investigated and tested. Application of the process for depositing thin-film coatings based on molybdenum sulphide and titanium sulphide nanopowders permitted increasing the service life of diamond wheels, high-speed steel drills and screw taps in comparison with the standard ones by the factor of 1.5-1.8. The method, as an invention, has been protected by a patent of the Russian Federation.

The project is intended to develop a technologically simple, high-performance, versatile and ecologically friendly method of low-temperature nano-thermo-chemical treatment of ready-made articles and tools made from different materials, which will permit to increase significantly their service life.

The new method for surface hardening of machine parts and tools will include the following two processes:

  • · chemical treatment in specially prepared aqueous suspensions containing insoluble nanopowders of diamonds or refractory compounds and soluble chemical components,
  • · subsequent heat treatment (tempering); minimal heating temperature is 130 oC and duration is 0.5 h.

Chemical treatment in aqueous suspensions will result is the formation of thin-film coatings with special anticorrosive and wear-resistant properties. Subsequent tempering is required for structural and phase transformations in the surface layers to occur, which results in strong bonding between the coating and substrate.

Novel nanotechnologies of low-temperature thermo-chemical treatment will be patentable because their technological level (such properties as wear resistance of tools and articles, process efficiency and cost-effectiveness) will surpass the level of the best foreign developments.

As the project participants together with the collaborators have an intention to patent the technologies to be developed, the issues connected with the protection of intellectual property will be strictly observed in all the reports and documentation relevant to the project.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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