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Research and Development

Oerlikon pursues a clear vision: to give products improved and more desirable functions. We help cars and airplanes use less fuel, make tools last longer, and improve the manufacture of textiles. Our technologies enable manufacturers to do things they simply could not do before and advance industrial innovation.

R&D ensures growth in core markets

As a market-leading provider of technologies, products and services for growth markets, such as the automotive industry, aerospace, energy, the tooling industry and additive manufacturing (AM), Oerlikon has established a solid foundation on which to build: our extensive, coordinated efforts in R&D ensure that we are always ready to meet the changing challenges of various markets and our customers’ requirements.

Over 1 000 highly qualified engineers and scientists work for the Group worldwide. Their ideas turn into inventions, which give Oerlikon a competitive advantage. We therefore attach great importance to strong patent protection, which safeguards our intellectual property and creates a foundation for new products and applications.

Nowadays, innovations are increasingly emerging from collaborations with partners in the field of science. To do this, Oerlikon fosters a global network of partnerships with universities, research institutes and industry experts. The regular and institutionalized exchange with the academic world contributes significantly toward maintaining a technological lead and extending the knowledge base of the Group.

Financial and economic investments still at a high level

Financial and economic investments still at a high level

In 2017, the Group again invested 4% of its annual turnover in research and development, which equates to CHF 107 million, and it applied for 91 patents globally. The innovation pipeline is fed through a research and engineering strategy that concentrates on customer needs and market potential. Innovation focuses on new applications, higher productivity, lower operating costs and maximum quality, as well as sustainable technologies and processes.

New technologies and solutions

Oerlikon introduced numerous new technologies and solutions to the market in 2017. The Surface Solutions Segment presented – among other things – BALIQ® UNIQUE for color coding tools and BALIFOR, the intelligent solution for high-performance applications in the automotive industry, as well as new coating solutions for heating systems and brake pads in electric cars. BALINIT® Diamond, a structured, superhard titanium-aluminum-nitride coating which is particularly resistant to abrasive wear and erosion even in high temperatures (such as in airplane turbines), was introduced to the market for the aviation sector. Another introduction was Surface One™ – the newest thermal spray coating from Oerlikon, which is designed for Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and which significantly increases process efficiency and productivity.

Oerlikon launched systems and technologies, as well as five new alloys for the additive manufacturing market in 2017. Based on the technology of Scoperta – acquired in 2017 – an improved version of Hastelloy® X, a well-known, nickel-based super alloy, was specifically developed and launched on the AM market. Thanks to its corrosion resistance at high temperatures and its strength, this improved material is ideal for aviation and power generation applications. The company’s new Additive Manufacturing Technology & Innovation Center in Munich will aid the advancement of research and development in the additive manufacturing sector.

The Oerlikon Manmade Fibers Segment introduced the new WINGS FDY 1800 system to the market in 2017, a system with which yarn production can be increased by 20%. In addition, the system for synthetic staple fiber spinning was optimized to enable more efficient spinning production and a better fiber quality.

The Drive Systems Segment worked with our customer CNH in 2017 to launch the new CNH Dual Clutch gear unit which ensures shorter shifting times and a longer service life for tractor drive technologies. We also saw the introduction of the single-stage gear unit for battery-powered EMR3 electric vehicles and a new scalable hybrid rear axle module (HRAM) with a fully integrated electric motor which is directly connected to the wheels via two gear ratios.

Surface Solutions Segment

In 2017, the Surface Solutions Segment, under the Oerlikon Balzers brand, expanded its comprehensive portfolio to include BALIFOR M and BALIFOR T coatings for automotive components, as well as surface solutions for heating systems and electric car brake discs. These included BALIFOR M and BALIFOR T, as well as coating solutions for heating systems and electric car brake discs. BALIFOR M is a molybdenum-nitride coating that is characterized by its outstanding compatibility with lubricants and additives that can break down at high temperatures. BALIFOR T is perfect for high-temperature applications, applications with low lubricant levels over longer time periods, and in combination with aggressive additives. RotaPlasma™ HS1, a unique high-speed rotating plasma gun manipulator, was launched under the Oerlikon Metco brand in 2017. RotaPlasma HS1 is an integral component of the SUMEBore™ coating solution, which helps to reduce friction, oil and fuel consumption, and wear in the automobile cylinder bores.

The Segment launched various special products for customers from the tooling and general industries. These included BALIQ® UNIQUE for color coding, as well as INLENIA pica and INLENIA kila. The INLENIA coating system uses the S3p® technology from Oerlikon Balzers to produce exceptionally smooth surface coatings with a high degree of durability. S3p® is particularly beneficial for cutting tools with high precision and surface quality requirements (micro tools, thread cutters, reamers and inserts for end processing), and applications for materials that are difficult to machine (stainless steel or titanium). INLENIA pica is the compact, flexible solution for high-precision tools, while INLENIA kila is designed for processing large batches of tools in mass production.

Oerlikon Balzers introduced the new BALINIT DIAMOND coatings to the market in 2017 specifically for customers from the aviation sector. These are intended for tools used to machine challenging alloys such as titanium and nickel, as well as to improve covering parameters in aviation applications. MetcoAdd™ alloys were also newly launched. These are next-generation materials for coatings and additive production processes to increase the efficiency of aircraft engines. Surface One, the new thermal spray system from Oerlikon Metco, increases process efficiency and productivity by means of improved user friendliness, a standardized and compact design, increased mobility and improved security features.

The power generation market saw the market launch of various surface technologies in 2017. This includes the BALINIT® TURBINE PRO multilayer coating, which is harder and firmer than conventional coatings and thus increases the service life of turbine compressor blades.

Surface Solutions launched systems and technologies, as well as five new alloys for the additive manufacturing market in 2017. Based on the technology of Scoperta – acquired in 2017 – an improved version of Hastelloy X, a well-known, nickel-based super alloy, was specially developed and launched on the AM market. Thanks to its corrosion resistance at high temperatures and its strength, this improved material is ideal for aviation and power generation applications. The company’s new Additive Manufacturing Technology & Innovation Center in Munich will aid the advancement of research and development in the additive manufacturing sector.

Manmade Fibers Segment

Manmade Fibers Segment

Another one of 2017’s numerous technological Innovations is the WINGS POY 1800 yarn winder, which increases yarn production by 20% while using the same production space. The first few major orders have already arrived for it in several markets. The Manmade Fibers Segment developed and launched a process-optimized solution for polyester staple fiber spinning systems which is more efficient and enables improved fiber quality. In addition, the Segment launched several new solutions for polyester staple fibers (PSF), as well as an electric loading unit for meltblown systems, which offers a high degree of flexibility while loading fibers and reduces surface weight and resistance. The FAUS operating unit, which enables extensive automation of meltblown systems, was also newly launched.

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