Advanced Heat Treat Corp. of Waterloo, Iowa, received a $149,887 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund a project titled “SBIR Phase I: Plasma Enhanced Nanostructures for Improved Tribology of Gray Cast Iron Stamping Dies.” According to the NSF, this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project aims to use nitrocarburizing plasmas to generate a nanostructured layer on top of a nitride case on cast iron surfaces of cast iron dies used in the stamping of high-strength-steel sheets.

To deposit nanostructured coatings, reactive carbo-nitro-hydride ion species will be created by using low deposition pressures and temperatures in industrial-sized equipment. The deposited coatings will be evaluated for their mechanical properties and tribological performance under conditions replicating those in actual stamping operations. The commercial impact of this project will be the potential to provide high-hardness and low-friction nanostructured coatings on the nitride to significantly enhance the tribological performance of the cast iron dies' surfaces, realizing significant savings for the stamping industry.