Evaluation of the market potential of HiPIMS and advanced coating technologies
Wintersemester 2020 - CERN
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, is an international organization with a focus on fundamental physics research. It operates the worldwide largest particle accelerator complex and the world’s most powerful particle collider, the Large Hadron Collider. Currently, a worldwide community of scientists and engineers develops a concept for an even large particle collider, the Future Circular Collider (FCC) with a circumference of almost 100 km. Within the scope of EASITrain, a H2020 project funded by the European Union that is coordinated by CERN, key technologies for the FCC are advanced. The Vienna University of Economics and Business contributes with studies that aim at studying how the society can best profit from the technologies that CERN develops together with industry for its particle accelerator developments. The focus of these efforts was on finding yet unidentified applications for technologies needed in the manufacturing process of high-field superconducting magnets and superconducting radiofrequency systems.
The teams worked to understand the challenges when aiming at transferring advanced coating technologies that are developed for superconducting radiofrequency cavities to a broad range of societal applications. Getting an in depth understanding of the limiting factors can also help identifying pathways to lower the cost of the technology, broaden the landscape of companies that can offer the technology and making the technology more accessible to a wide range of applications for the benefit of every single person. One coating technology was particularly put in the focus of the research: High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HiPIMS). CERN is interested in the growth potential of market applications that may be able adopt this elusive technology to increase the quality and value of a diverse set of products. Such, public investments in high-tech developments for fundamental physics research can be an effective lever to increase the competitiveness of European high-tech industries and to ensure that taxpayer’s money is fed back to the society with additional benefits for everyone. The overarching goal of ultimately controlling the costs and increasing the performance for taking advantage of HiPIMS coatings for the Future Circular Collider is subdivided into sub-goals which are pursued simultaneously.
The research revealed that thin-film coating technology has already been widely implemented in several industries, such as the cutting tool manufacturing industry. HiPIMS remains, however, an elusive technology that is still characterized by high investments, a limited availability of experts who can make good use of this technology and for which a clear catalogue of market applications has not yet been established. Our research has also shown that HiPIMS is very well suited to add value in industries where high-quality standards are predominant and production costs play a minor role due to inelastic demand. The qualitative data collection highlighted four high potential application fields. These fields include the automotive, the medical, the communication and the glass production industry. These industries offer adequate market sizes and exhibit sufficiently large growth potential to profit from the adoption advanced coating technologies and which are able to make use of superior quality of respective goods. Some of them are already in the process of adopting HiPIMS.
To sum up, the adoption of HiPIMS is connected with various uncertainties although recent developments have shown that there is the possibility, that HiPIMS will be adopted by selected industries on a larger scale. Especially the predicted ban of galvanization in the European Union could contribute to the desired widespread adoption of HiPIMS in the coating industry as an environmentally friendly technology and promote growth in the HiPIMS industry in Europe. A key challenge remains the availability of a sufficient amount of highly qualified experts with cross-cutting skills. Such people will be key to help spreading the adoption of advanced coating technologies and are required to transfer this high-tech process to the market. Consequently, continues advanced training in this domain, as showcased by the EASITRain Marie-Curie action will remain an important ingredient to create innovations in the European Union in a sustainable way.
Dr. Johannes Gutleber
Quach, Tuong-Vi Sophie