R&D and Innovation
In 2021, Oerlikon invested 4.0% of total annual sales in R&D, corresponding to a sum of CHF 105 million, and filed 90 patents worldwide. Oerlikon’s innovation pipeline is fueled by cutting-edge research and engineering processes to develop solutions that address customers’ and markets’ current and future needs, as well as to satisfy social and environmental considerations, such as energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.
Oerlikon continued its R&D partnerships with customers, universities, research institutes and external companies. One project, driven by Oerlikon’s Digital Hub, is working on how to combine material property calculations with (internal) machine-learning approaches to identify and design new materials for specific applications. With another university, Oerlikon is jointly developing machine-learning-based analytics for material characterization. Oerlikon is also continuing to work on coating solutions for batteries and battery production with external companies and research institutes.
Leveraging the know-how and skills across the Group,cross-business R&D projects in 2021 included:
- Developing a new class of materials, using our Scoperta Rapid Alloy Development technology, for a power generation application that will meet customers’ qualifications for the next generation of equipment.
- New powder materials in the same class as above were successfully tested in an engine and showed >2 times of improvement in a specific dimension. A second round of tests is being performed.
Oerlikon introduced a number of new technologies and solutions to the market in 2021 – ranging from new and enhanced equipment and systems to materials, coatings and services. Selected examples are listed as follows:
- Oerlikon introduced a new high entropy alloy that is optimal to additively produce structural components, such as centrifugal pump impellers. The new alloy is set to replace super duplex stainless steels.
- Materials have been developed for coating of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) to increase the fuel cells’ energy efficiency.
Equipment, Products and Systems
- At ITMA Asia 2021, Oerlikon Barmag presented the next generation of its eAFK Evo solution. This automatic texturing solution can save up to 25% energy and offers up to 30% higher production speed, easy maintenance and top yarn quality.
- Oerlikon HRSflow launched HRScool Evo, an updated HRScool hydraulic cylinder system for hot runner injection molding, which offers sophisticated temperature management and does not require active liquid cooling of the actuation unit. Used for auto parts, HRScool Evo is optimal for temperature-critical applications and enables savings in costs and maintenance as the elimination of liquid cooling reduces the number of components.
- Oerlikon AM is the series supplier for Hexagon Metrology’s flagship 3D scanning sensor, the Absolute Scanner AS1.
- Oerlikon AM delivered more than 1 000 additively manufactured bicycle components to Urwahn.
Coatings and Services
- An Oerlikon Balzers’ new BALDIA portfolio of diamond coatings was introduced. Diamond coatings are extremely wear-resistant, offer thermal conductivity and are chemically inert, making them the best choice for machining highly abrasive materials.
- Oerlikon also introduced its new Balzers BALORA portfolio, featuring the next generation of MCrAlY coatings based on Arc-PVD technology. BALORA coatings offer revolutionary properties for applications in high-temperature environments in aerospace and power generation.
- Oerlikon is jointly researching with partners to develop antibacterial and virucidal coatings for the aerospace sector. Viruses such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus can survive for a long time on plastics, which are particularly widely used in aircraft.
- An Oerlikon Balzers’ coating is used to integrate intelligent functionalities such as camera technology, radar function and other sensors in the new BMW iX’s kidney grille. BMW received a Grand Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers for this innovative kidney. Moreover, the forming tools used in the production of the kidney grille are coated with Oerlikon Balzers’ BALINIT FUTURA NANO.