Research project "Curare"

During their use, forging dies are subject to high levels of abrasive and adhesive wear. Prior surface treatment makes it possible to efficiently modify the surface layer to suit the application. In the "CURARE" project (computer-aided laser surface treatment and combined nitriding of forging dies aimed at increasing service life), laser surface treatment is combined with subsequent nitriding in order to significantly prolong the service life of forging dies.

Together with another research institute as well as seven companies from five European countries, the Fraunhofer IPT therefore initiated the EU “CURARE” project (contract number: 222317). The project is funded as part of the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme.

In addition to the Fraunhofer IPT, the National Institute for Laser, Plasma and Radiation Physics, Romania is involved in this project. Other partners are:

  •  A. BENEVENUTA & C. S.p.A., Italy
  • DMF Werkzeugbau GmbH, Germany
  • EDAETECH Engenharia e Tecnologia, S.A., Portugal
  • Forjaco-Aco Forjado, Lda., Portugal
  • Rasche Umformtechnik GmbH & Co. KG, Germany
  • KLF-ZVL MTK spol. s.r.o., Slovakia
  • Istituto Per Le Ricerche Di Tecnologia Meccanica R.T.M., Italy

The technology

In the “CURARE” project, the surface treatment processes of laser alloying/dispersion and nitriding are combined: laser alloying/dispersion protects against abrasive wear, while a nitride layer protects the forging dies from adhesive wear.
In order that the project findings are successfully transferred into industrial applications, work must be carried out to achieve four subordinate objectives:

  • Development of geometrically flexible processing strategies for laser alloying/dispersion
  • Development of a CAx module and a database for laser surface treatment.
  • Benchmarking of different nitriding processes, analysis of surface layers and development of a quality management concept

During the project, the performance of the CURARE process will be validated using the combined surface treatment and the use of selected forging dies. The final users amongst the project participants will then test the treated tools under industrial conditions. In this way, the project partners will assess the technological and economic aspects of the processing system and the treated forging dies.

The results

The technological objectives of the project were achieved. On the basis of elementary process investigations concerning laser alloying/dispersing, characteristic geometrical elements of tools and dies, provided by the industrial partners, were treated by laser. In addition the National Institute for Laser, Plasma and Radiation Physics qualified different nitriding processes for the combined surface treatment.
Parallel to the process technological investigations, Fraunhofer IPT developed a CAx-module for displaying the entire planning chain for the automated laser surface treatment: starting with the detection of geometry of the part to process simulation leading to the generation of the NC-codes for machining.
Especially for the 5-axis laser surface treatment a machining system was build-up. Selected tools and dies of the end users were locally laser alloyed/dispersed in the highly stressed areas. After the subsequent nitriding, the tools and dies were already applied in production with good results. Due to the surface treatment the lifetime of the tools and dies was extended as well as the geometry stability of the specific geometrical elements. Because of the improved wear resistance, the economic efficiency was increased significantly – especially for complex and expensive tools and dies and for large batch sizes.

Project management

European Commission

Project coordination

Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnologie IPT
Daniel Heinen 
Steinbachstraße 17
52074 Aachen

Joint partners

National Institute for Laser, Plasma and Radiation Physics ILPP
Dr. Cristian Ruset
Atomistilor Street 409
077125 Magurele-Bucharest

DMF Werkzeugbau GmbH
Lutz Märker
Steinbrüchenstraße 10
99428 Nohra 

Livio Marietti
Regione Crosi 4
10084 Forno Canavese (TO)

EDAETECH Engenharia e Tecnologia, S.A.
Ventura Belinho
Zona Industrial de Fão-Pedreiras
4740-406 Fão-Esposende

Forjaco – Aco Forjado, Lda.
Rui Santos
Rua Conde T. Ferrão, 28
Apartado 4
3781-903 Amoreira da Gandara, Anadia

KLF – ZVL MTK spol. s r. o.
Ondrej Smatana
Robotnicka 14
036 01 Martin

Rasche Umformtechnik GmbH & Co. KG
Ernst Holtmann
Unterm Grünen Berg 2-4
58840 Plettenberg 

Instituto Per Le Ricerche Di Tecnologia Meccanica R.T.M.
Dr. Mauro Penasa
Via Circonvallazione 7
10080 Vico Canavese (TO)