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The Bottom Line
Peerless Chain called for Phygen's patented  FortiPhySM coating to toughen chain-forming dies. This resulted in a phenomenal increase in hits per tool, even compared to industry-standard TiN PVD coating. They plan to use FortiPhy on their wire-forming dies next.

The Numbers
Without coatings:
1.5 million hits
With TD coating:
2.5 million hits
With FortiPhy:
4 million hits

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Metal Forming Success Story

PVD Surface Coating Outlasts Thermal Diffusion Tool Coating and Increases Productivity for Chain-Forming Company

Peerless Chain Company, Winona MN, manufactures a variety of wire-based products, including chain, wire forms, and automotive traction products. In order to compete in tough markets around the world, Peerless has had to optimize every step in its production processes to eliminate any “weak links.” Roger Gabrych, supervisor of plant services at Peerless, keeps a close watch on the productivity of the company's production line tooling. One of his recent concerns was the dies used to form chain links. They were not lasting as long on the production line as Gabrych expected.

Chain forming is an extremely high-wear process that can really shorten the life of precision tooling. In this process, relatively hard and abrasive cold-forming wire up to 2.0 inches in diameter is impacted with forming dies to shape each chain link. The metal is subjected to high pressure, well beyond its elastic limit. Uncoated tools can fail quickly. Ordinary coatings can help, but the combination of high pressure and abrasive material can overcome the adhesive strength of the coatings and peel them off in a matter of hours. This kind of cold-forming really demands an ultra endurance coating.

According to Gabrych, chain forming dies were wearing out prematurely. “Our high-speed machines, combined with the abrasive properties of our wire grades, really shorten die life. Uncoated dies can only produce 1.5 million chain links before wearing out.” In an attempt to correct the problem, a thermal diffusion carbide coating was tried. This improved die life somewhat, to around 2.5 million hits, but was not a reliable solution due to frequent chipping. Dies were coated with TiN, but adhesion problems caused them to fail quickly. “Our results with other coatings came down to one thing: adhesion. Sometimes dies failed right away when the coatings just peeled off.”

Because this application needed the toughest coatings available, Peerless went to Phygen for a custom-tuned coating application. Says Gabrych, “Phygen looked at our operation and recommended the right solution. We received excellent service, and their lead times were very good.”

How were the results after coating? The FortiPhySM coated dies produced 4 million links before going out of tolerance. According to Gabrych, “Phygen coatings solved our problems, with increased die life, producing longer uptimes.”

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 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 thin-film coatings that outperform thicker, less-uniform coatings. In addition, Phygen's 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.

Peerless Chain turned to Phygen to improve the uptime of one of its key processes. Thanks to FortiPhy low-temperature coatings, Peerless is running the chain-forming production lines at peak efficiency. After experiencing the productivity improvement provided by FortiPhy CrN tool coatings, Peerless plans to use it on their wire-forming dies next. It's forward thinking like this that keeps Peerless Chain ahead of the competition, worldwide.

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