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The Bottom Line
Dana Corp. called for Phygen's patented FortiPhySM coating to toughen stamping dies. Phygen's lower temperature process allows thin parts that would have warped during other coating processes to be coated. This results in consistently more hits per tool. In addition, FortiPhy prevents galling in pierce punches used on aluminum.

The Numbers
After coating critical tooling, 10-12 times increase in tool life

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Metal Forming Success Story

Low-Temp Coating Process Coats Thin Tooling Without Warping

Jim Pasquale has more than 45 years of tooling experience, all with the same company. His employer, Dana Corp., is lucky to have him because that kind of hands-on tooling knowledge is invaluable when tough tooling decisions need to be made. Expertise in metal forming and stamping that comes from people like Jim Pasquale has helped Dana remain a leading automotive supplier.

Dana makes a variety of precision engine parts for the automakers. A typical production run might produce several million tight-tolerance thrust washers or bearings. New engine designs and advanced materials add to the challenge of keeping production lines running at peak efficiency. In addition, as automakers fight to remain competitive, they apply pricing pressure on their suppliers. This has required Dana to continuously improve its tooling and production methods wherever possible.

Over the years Pasquale has seen the “continuous improvement” philosophy put into practice many times over. Manufacturing processes today are more consistent thanks to computer controls. Tool steel properties and heat treatments are better than ever. Lubricants and coolants are more effective at higher stamping rates. And, advanced metal coatings have been introduced, tested, and refined. After investigating many promising new coatings, Pasquale has found one that delivers. His testing has proven again and again that FortiPhySM coatings by Phygen outperform other coatings, and measurably increase the toughness of Dana's stamping dies.

Pasquale has been evaluating the effectiveness of coatings since he sent forming dies out for TiN coating back in the 1970s, when coating technologies were in their infancy. Many times he found the coating process caused more problems than it solved. High-temperature coating processes can cause warping, especially in thin sections. This is one area where FortiPhy coatings really shine. Pasquale explains, “Phygen's process does not exceed the critical temperature of our tool steels.  This allows us to coat some of the thinner tooling without worrying about warp. When I can coat these parts, I can get 10 to 12 times the life out of them. That kind of return on investment is significant. If coatings can get me even three times the life out of an expensive tool, it saves me money.”

The benefits of FortiPhy coatings are not always related to the cost of the tool. Dana has some small pierce punches, used on aluminum stock, that were slowing down production. Pasquale says, “When we punched aluminum, it sometimes galled the pierce punches. After sending them to Phygen for coating, the problem went away.” Pasquale is always looking for ways to improve Dana's tools. He says, “I look for the most troublesome parts of our tooling and try coatings. I have seen the biggest improvements in tool steels coated by Phygen.”

In addition to aluminum, Pasquale has successfully used FortiPhy coatings to smooth the stamping of dual materials such as steel backed with bearing alloys, where, says Pasquale, “We can set up our process for the steel or the alloy, but not both.” FortiPhy's low friction prevents the softer alloy from sticking to tooling, allowing the production line to run faster.

The key to FortiPhy's exceptional toughness, low coefficient of friction, and corrosion resistance is its uniform, nanocrystalline structure. Phygen’s patented plasma acceleration process improves upon traditional PVD methods to produce the most uniform coating deposition layer possible, with exceptionally high adhesion. Having solved the uniformity problems inherent in the PVD processes of the past, Phygen can apply thinner coatings that outperform thicker, less-uniform coatings. In addition, Phygen coatings are applied at much lower temperatures. Low-temperature processing and thinner coatings help keep critical tool dimensions within tolerance, without the costly rework of other processes.

Jim Pasquale has repeatedly proven that FortiPhy coatings outperform other coatings, while causing less distortion. How does he really feel about Phygen? Says Pasquale, “If I had unlimited resources, honestly, I would have them coat every piece of tooling we have. Right now, we are able to pick selected parts for coating, and get three- to ten-times the life, consistently.”

Phygen Coatings, Inc.
1400 Marshall Street, NE / Minneapolis, MN 55413-1040
Toll Free 888.749.4361 / Fax 612.331.4230 /