Improving the performance of materials and coatings

Sensor Review

ISSN: 0260-2288

Article publication date: 1 March 2000




(2000), "Improving the performance of materials and coatings", Sensor Review, Vol. 20 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Improving the performance of materials and coatings

Keywords Materials, Coatings, Research

Work has recently got under way on a new materials measurement programme supported by the UK's Department of Trade and Industry. Characterisation and Performance of Materials (CPM) invites collaboration with industry in order to gain a better understanding of how increased knowledge of the behaviour of materials will allow UK companies to achieve a competitive advantage.

Scheduled for completion in 2002, research roughly encompasses five project areas: polymeric materials; coatings; biomaterials; ceramics and hard materials; and functional materials. Work is primarily centred at NPL with research on biomaterials being carried out by a number of external companies. Participation by representative Industrial Advisory Groups will provide further support to each project.

The first project area deals with polymeric materials. Computer based design packages are being increasingly used for predicting the performance of manufactured components yet these packages tend to be based on models generally not applicable to plastics. There is a need for increased research in order to provide more information and improve data, thereby enhancing performance accuracy.

A number of research projects are planned for the coatings area. Tests will be conducted on the adhesion of coatings in order to evaluate existing methods, improve measurement techniques and develop new test methods. The properties of surface layers and multi-layered coatings will be examined in order to increase the performance of components. In addition, information will be gathered on abrasion, wear and erosion testing in order to improve the performance of various coatings.

A project on orthopaedic applications of materials follows on from biomaterials work carried out in a previous programme on the characterisation of materials (CAM). Other biomaterials research will be conducted on implant metrology and urological applications in order to improve their performance.

The ceramics and hard materials area covers work on the assessment of microstructures. This looks at measurement of grain size distribution and grain shape and examines property relationships for ultrafine grained materials. In addition, research on the mechanical properties for hard materials deals with the difficulties in assessing important properties of hard metals, such as fatigue strength.

Work on functional materials includes examining the performance of materials under high frequency conditions to ensure continued product reliability. A project on advanced characterisation methods for functional materials will carry out a rigorous analysis of fatigue performance of ceramic materials. In addition, research will examine the properties and performance of thin film devices used in microactuators and micromotors.

Providing a chance for active industry involvement a studio project entitled "Characterisation and performance of materials" aims to develop links between UK companies with common interests in specific materials measurement problems at NPL. Participating companies will also be given the opportunity to access NPL's special expertise and equipment.

Information on the programme will be made available to companies and interested parties through a range of sources. A number of publications are planned such as reports, newsletters, measurement notes and good practice guides along with various new test methods and workshops. Further information can be found on the NPL Web site at:

For further information contact: Materials Enquiry Point, Centre for Materials Measurement and Technology. Tel: 020 8943 6701; Fax: 020 8943 7160; E-mail:

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