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Coatings and surface engineering: addressing the needs of industry

Back to Media and Events 2013-07-creepimage-inspecting-creep-damage-in-critical-power-plant-components 2016-09-cutting-edge-technology-for-nuclear-decommissioning A career in welding inspection Additive manufactured medical implants to enter mainstream Additive Manufacturing UK Strategy update available for download Advanced electron beam facilities meet advanced industrial challenges Advanced ultrasonic full matrix capture inspection software launched Armourers & Brasiers' awards open for entries Art exhibition leads to new method of laser metal deposition Asbestos detection made easier and more reliable ASME issues White Paper on auditing of welding Audit shows TWI as integral to innovation Aviation Industry Corporation of China collaborates with TWI BeamAssure™ – electron beam welding quality assurance tool Best practice for nuclear construction industry welding BS 7910:2013 - Assessing flaws in metallic structures Call for papers: 12th International FSW Symposium CII and TWI awareness seminar in composites technology Coatings and surface engineering: addressing the needs of industry Combatting ice and erosion in extreme low temperatures - EIROS Combining Cathodic Protection with Aluminium Coatings CROWN project commended for offshore wind corrosion work Depositing silicon carbide coatings by thermal spraying Digital Twin Technology to monitor offshore assets Digital twin technology wins environmental business award Dr Melissa Riley presents paper at international conference Dr Melissa Riley represents TWI at international conference eLearning package for CSWIP 3.1 Welding Inspector launched Entry is now open for SkillWeld 2016 Extending Aircraft Life Using Cold Spray Technology Fibre delivered laser beam cutting optimisation Friction stir welding – joining the future of industry Friction stir welding and Japanese jewellery Government funds £10 million technology hub in Teesside Has your PCN NDT Certification been voided? TWI Can Help… Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal opens new laboratories at TWI High-pressure hydrogen testing at TWI Ice-repellant coating for aerospace and energy industries Industry benefits of composites microwave processing Innovation Centres at TWI deliver progress for industry INTRAPID produces rapid in-line laser AM inspection systems Introducing the TWI Virtual Academy: studying on your own terms Investigating geothermal coatings for the future of renewable energy Laser scanner improves TWI weld analysis services for Members Lasers for decommissioning: the story so far Lifting the lid on innovation: exploratory projects at TWI Lord Heseltine opens new TWI technology and training centre Meeting reinvigorates Welding Institute's Liverpool branch Mike Russell appointed as TWI Operations Director 'Mind the doors' – New project investigates train door failure Mobile electron beam welds for fabricating large structures ModuLase - combining laser processes for the future of manufacturing MoU between ALFED and TWI enhances collaboration Nanosecond pulsed laser expands opportunities for project work NDT Voiding of PCN certification from NDT International New benefit for TWI Members: free access to Welding Abstracts journal New building to house TWI's structural integrity expertise New centre for Advanced Manufacturing Technologies launched New eBooks added for Professional and Industrial Members New facility for testing the barrier performance of polymers New fracture testing accreditation New Granta Centre manager guarantees premier conferencing New home and new capabilities for TWI in Middlesbrough New manufacturing process supports Hayter's winning position New sensor technology for safe shale gas extraction funded New TWI article breaks down the changes to ISO 15614-1 New ultrasonic testing courses from the TWI Virtual Academy New welding apprenticeship standards receive government approval Novel solution for submersible pumps in oil and gas industry Open Day sparks the start of a new era of research for TWI Pioneering tests being conducted on bespoke TWI rig Plant Inspection training meets need for competent workers Plastics welding experts answer your questions at Aquaculture UK 2014 Progressing graphene as a supercritical fluid barrier Project investigates Powder Metallurgy for astrospace use Purpose-built pressure testing facility opens for business at TWI Purpose-built pressure testing facility to be constructed at TWI Registration opens for TWI BS EN ISO 15614-1 (2017) training RJD Engineering gains Factory Production Control system Certification Rolls-Royce's Martin Boyd discusses the benefits of becoming an IEng Showing expertise in corrosion safety, investigation and assessment Simulating real-world conditions for oil and gas research Skills Development Fund Scheme provides extra TWI courses SkillWeld medallist goes on to take gold at EuroSkills 2016 SOCAR and TWI celebrate new competence training partnership Success for TWI's first blended learning course candidates Successful engineers graduate from EWF/IIW Diploma in Welding 'SUPERSLAB' to meet thicker high-strength steels challenge SurFlow: secure, robust, integrated data transfer through composites Symposium highlights developments in linear friction welding Taking the next step as a CSWIP Welding Inspector Tate Modern use solvent technology for art restoration Teletest business transfers to Eddyfi Technologies The 50-year view of fracture The Transport Systems Catapult and TWI Announce Partnership The Welding Institute Annual Awards and Dinner 2017 The Welding Institute Awards 2018 – Applied Technology Award The Welding Institute promoting career development at NECR exhibition True Stress-True Strain Tensile Testing to Failure TWI and Lloyd's Register launch Fullagar Technologies initiative TWI and Lloyd's Register projects advance take-up of AM TWI celebrates National Women in Engineering Day TWI CEO Christoph Wiesner awarded OBE TWI combines heritage with innovation for the Morgan Motor Company TWI commence 'SubSeaLase' decommissioning project TWI delivers plastics welding training course to Fusion Marine TWI develops essential metallography training to ensure best practice TWI enters research centre agreement with AECC BIAM, China TWI helping UK businesses to 'Access India' TWI helps bring Philips Avent's thermoplastic nebulizer to market TWI helps Engineering College meet industry demand for staff TWI holds successful cold spray technology course TWI hosts graduation ceremony for EWF/IIW Diploma engineers TWI joins 'Integral' nuclear waste project TWI lands NDA innovation award for nuclear decommissioning TWI launches course for advanced digital radiography TWI pioneers 'invisible weld' process TWI Pioneers New Dissimilar Weld for European Space Agency TWI rewards outstanding undergraduate engineering projects TWI signs Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Aramco TWI Supports Underwater Laser Cutting Project TWI Technology Fellow given Visiting Professorship at LSBU TWI Training success story - Vera Dragoi TWI wins RIBA Awards TWI working to progress composites in the automotive industry TWI's Dr Philippa Moore: A role model for female engineers TWI's Dr Shiladitya Paul called as guest editor of Coatings journal Ultrasonic imaging climbing robot passes field trials Update on CPD for Welding Institute Professional Members Vince Cable India visit promotes UK business successes Welding Institute Annual Awards 2018 Welding Institute's latest Engineering Council registrants Welding the unweldable: TWI friction stir welds ODS steel WindTwin project to revolutionise wind turbine technology Workshop to address dissimilar materials joining challenge World's largest linear friction welded component produced World's most precise weld made at TWI
03 May 2016

Water repellence; lightning conduction; increased abrasion resistance – all properties which can be imparted to a material through the use of coatings and surface engineering.

Alongside its research and consultancy services focusing on joining and testing, TWI invests considerable resources into developing these versatile technologies for its Members.

Advanced coatings and surface engineering strategies are needed across virtually every sector of industry. A summary of some of the challenges currently being faced with these technologies is provided below.


The complex castings made of difficult-to-weld alloys used in aircraft structures can easily suffer superficial damage, either during their production as a result of casting defects or mismachining, or during service as a result of wear and corrosion.

Through the CORSAIR project, TWI is working with European aerospace companies to develop cold spray techniques to restore damaged areas without adversely affecting the properties of the base material. Although current repairs are ‘dimensional’ (ie not load-bearing), TWI has begun research to develop the next generation of load-bearing repairs through a PhD studentship between Nottingham University and the National Structural Integrity Research Centre.

Alongside surface engineering for repairs, the aerospace sector also needs durable anti-icing and anti-fouling coatings, improved bulk materials for aircraft leading edges, thermally resistant coatings and advanced composite materials for aircraft pipelines. These needs are being addresses by the EIROS project, in which TWI is working with 18 European partners to develop the next generation of anti-icing coating for cryogenic tanks, leading edges and automotive oil pans.


The construction industry is always seeking improved ways to repel moisture, limit the impact of fouling and preserve dimensional stability, appearance and insulation performance. TWI is designing silica-based nano-additives that can provide a water-repellent coating and give building materials improved insulation performance and durability.

This is the focus of the ISOBIO project, in which TWI and partners are developing a vapour-permeable water-repellent treatment for surfaces and natural fibres. This treatment can prevent the decay of insulating panels caused by moisture. A separate project with Edinburgh University is evaluating the impact of a silica-based treatment on insulation material’s fire resistance.


TWI’s efforts in the power sector focus on renewable energies. Here, solar panels and wind turbine blades require durable anti-fouling and anti-icing coatings to maximise operational efficiency. The wind sector also needs fire-retardant composites and advanced bulk materials, developed through nano-enabled resins, for applications such as lightweight blades.

In the solar sector, easy-clean anti-reflective coatings can significantly improve the efficiency of today’s photovoltaic systems. The SOLPLUS project focuses on the development of such a coating, to mitigate the impact of dust and soiling on solar panels and the resultant power efficiency losses. This will reduce maintenance costs and provide a sustainable way of optimising the power efficiency of solar plants that have already been built.

Another focus is on marine energy generation, where the long-term integrity of offshore wind turbine foundations and wave and tidal energy generators is jeopardised by a combination of corrosion and marine bio-fouling.

Existing ways of tackling these problems usually involve a combination of marine paint systems (with or without fast-release biocides or copper, both of which are on borrowed time for environmental reasons), cathodic protection and anodes strapped to the structure. None of these provides a hassle-free, cost-effective, damage tolerant and reliable solution.

In the ACORN project, TWI partnered with organisations in Spain, Sweden and the UK to develop a durable long-life corrosion-resistant antifouling coating system. Follow-on work will refine the coatings and demonstrate their effectiveness in several marine environments.

Oil and gas

Corrosion is the bane of the oil and gas industry, costing an estimated $1.8 trillion every year. Worldwide, five tonnes of steel is degenerated by corrosion every second, and 40 percent of steel produced today is used to replace corroded steel.

Sacrificial corrosion protection coatings based on thermally sprayed aluminium (TSA) are widely used to protect welded offshore structures from seawater corrosion. Several TWI joint industry projects in this area over the past 15 years have greatly advanced the understanding of these coatings.

Further research funded by TWI industrial members is now underway to investigate the damage tolerance of TSA, its interaction with cathodic protection, its performance at higher temperatures, its potential for mitigating corrosion under insulation and the susceptibility to hydrogen embrittlement of TSA-coated and cathodically protected high-strength steels, such as those used for mooring chains.

Corrosion, along with the problem of fouling, is also being addressed through the use of coatings. TWI is developing organic–inorganic hybrid coatings based on sol-gel chemistry and inorganic oxides, to provide an environmentally friendly approach to protection of metals against these factors.

Finally, TWI is a key participant in the WELDAPRIME project, which is developing a zinc-free weldable primer for steel.

Find out more

As the breadth of the above activity makes clear, the potential for coatings and surfacing engineering to improve industry performance is vast. If you would like to discuss a potential application, or believe one of the above developments could improve your business performance, get in touch via our Contact us page.

Applying a coating using the arc spray process
Applying a coating using the arc spray process
Coloured water droplets on a surface treated with a superhydrophobic coating developed at TWI
Coloured water droplets on a surface treated with a superhydrophobic coating developed at TWI
Applying a sealant to a test coupon for the ACORN project
Applying a sealant to a test coupon for the ACORN project
Corrosion and fouling test facility for the ACORN project near Santander, Spain
Corrosion and fouling test facility for the ACORN project near Santander, Spain

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