An Introduction to Surfi-Sculpt and Its Applications
Surfi-Sculpt TM is a materials processing technology that manipulates an electron beam to modify surface textures so that they are more useful and efficient in industrial applications, such as for enhanced bonding of composites to metal.
With the ability to create a variety of hole and slot patterns, Surfi-Sculpt is applicable to a wide range of projects and materials.
Figure 1. Surfi-Sculpt surface.
Figure 2. Ultra-coarse surface.
Figure 3. Ultra-light surface.
Figure 4. Ultra-coarse surface.
What Are the Benefits of Surfi-Sculpt?
Computer software controls the location of the beam precisely and repeatably, making it a suitable process for manufacturing high-volume and value components, with the capacity to form several hundred features in less than ten seconds.
The process is highly flexible, offering the opportunity to design customised features in most industries, including medical, adhesive, and hydrodynamic applications.
It also works on nearly every material, including very hard materials, whilst leaving very little heat damage.
How Does Surfi-Sculpt Work?
Surfi-Sculpt works by melting substrate material using the heating action of the beam and then displacing material using the combined effects of temperature-variant surface tension and vapour pressure at the point of action of the beam.
This process is repeated or overlapped to give the desired features.
It can create a wide range of textures on the material’s surface, including cross-hatch or dimples.
Please see a range of applications below.
Shipbuilding: Marine Engine Driveshafts
A recent study into surface texturing of driveshafts for large marine engines qualified the use of surface texturing as a standard manufacturing process for high-friction rings for one manufacturer. The project created surfaces with a high-friction coefficient with a narrow range, achieved by creating hexagonal patterns and craters. The authors also concluded that the process offered improved uniformity, reproducibility, and functionality over the previous process (Gora et al., 2022).
Surface texturing has also seen successful applications in other shipbuilding applications, such as friction discs. Friction discs transfer power in engines and act as a safety device. They need to sustain a precise amount of friction: too much and the gear can be overloaded, too little and there could be premature slippage. Using surface modification, a higher and more reproducible friction coefficient can be achieved, whilst providing significant cost-savings. (Heriot Watt University, 2022).
Biomedical Industry: Orthopaedic Implants
Surfi-Sculpt can increase bio-functionality for implants and devices – such as orthopaedic bone implants – by direct processing or by treatment of moulds.
This allows for design improvements, including implant fixation, product consistency, and successful integration.
Figure 5. Orthopaedic implant.
Manufacturing: Rotational Symmetry
Many parts of common products, such as handles or axles, have rotational symmetry. Internal or external screw threads can be added using Surfi-Sculpt, as well as a criss-cross pattern for enhanced grip.
Figure 6. Rotational symmetry.
Materials Science: Surface Coatings
Surfi-Sculpt can manipulate surfaces to promote adhesion between a substrate and a coating. This could be taken advantage of in several industries including aerospace, medical, and automotive.
Figure 7. Surface coatings.
Surfi-Sculpt is a trademark of TWI Ltd.
Gora, W., Carstensen, J., Wlodarczyk, K., Laursen, M., Hansen, E. and Hand, D., 2022. A Novel Process for Manufacturing High-Friction Rings with a Closely Defined Coefficient of Static Friction (Relative Standard Deviation 3.5%) for Application in Ship Engine Components. Materials, 15(2), p.448.
Heriot Watt University. 2022. Laser textured discs improve marine engine performance. [online] Available at: https://www.hw.ac.uk/news/articles/2022/laser-textured-discs-improve-marine-engine.htm.