HANNOVER MESSE 2019, 01 - 05 April
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Research & Technology

Environmentally-friendly laser technique saves on gold

Laser metal deposition replaces electroplating: In a development project, this method is being used to apply gold to electrical contacts. The aim is to significantly reduce the amount of gold used and the energy needed and to avoid the production of toxic substances.

14 Oct. 2018
HMI-ID09-092br_FraunhoferIPT_01
Environmentally-friendly laser technique saves on gold (Photo: Fraunhofer IPT)

Gold improves the conductivity and corrosion-resistance of the contact points on electrical components. Conventional electroplating, however, necessitates a great deal of material and energy and is also harmful to the environment. Since it does not allow for direct integration in the punching/bending process chain for the production of electrical contacts, this results in high costs for transport to electroplating facilities, energy and raw material consumption, and wastewater treatment.

With metal deposition, on the other hand, the laser efficiently melts gold droplets from several micro-wires and does not require any electrolyte that contains toxic compounds. The contact area is plated with high precision, thereby significantly reducing the amount of gold required. In the GeCo project, a stable coating process is now to be developed as an alternative technology to electroplating – an interesting development for manufacturers of punching components and electrical contacts, as well as for coating companies, since this new laser metal deposition technology will enable them to produce goods in a more cost-efficient and eco-friendly way. Partners in the project are the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT , Carl Dillenius Metallwaren , F&K Delvotec , Harms & Wende , and Inovan .