Understanding fundamentals of Cr-free pre-treatments

Key Information

Tata Steel Europe (TSE) is the second largest producer of pre-painted steel in Europe. To maintain this position, the organisation is constantly trying to improve the current product range, either through the development of best in class coatings for the construction industry, improved offerings in service or through added functionality. In some TSE applications, steel substrate surfaces are coated with thin layer, ranging from a few Nano meters to a few micro meters. These layers are usually called as pre-treatment and applied by installations usually with roll coaters.   Rolls apply usually a water based metal ion containing solution onto the strip where it reacts with the substrate to form a layer. These thin layers need to be controlled within micro meter thickness of the wet film applied at line speeds ranging from 30 m/min 180 m/min. After drying the wet film, a layer in the nanometer or micrometer range, depending on the application, is formed. The time from applying the wet film and drying of the coating takes place within seconds.  After pre-treatment, further coatings are applied onto the surface to make required organic coated products for customers.  Pre-treatment plays key role for corrosion and physical properties of the final product.

A huge drive in the industry in recent years is to move from chromated to chrome-free coating systems, with several new chrome free products in the manufacturing process.   This project will enable greater knowledge of the interaction between cr-free pre-treatments and “substrate and organic coatings”.  

The suitable candidate will be on the boundary of industrial and scientific research, with experience gained from industry whilst working in an academic research environment.

Project Aims

This project aims to fundamentally understand the manufacturing processing conditions on the properties of the end product especially for pre-treatment section. The objective is to understand the interaction/reactions between pre-treatment and substrate and organic coatings. The pre-treatment is an extremely thin layer (nm), however, it has a vital role for long term corrosion performance and physical properties of Tata Steel Colors products. For best performing products, ideal substrate surface characteristics, cleaning process parameters, roll coater application conditions, drying requirements, deposition amount needs to be understood for continuous industrial production. Relevant pre-treatment chemistries and their reactions with different substrate types needs assessing. During continues productions, chemistry of the pre-treatment may change and hence the product performance. The process parameters and their impact on the chemical interactions between the substrate and organic coating need to be understood and how this affects the long term corrosions performance.

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Sponsoring Company Tata Steel Colors

Candidates should hold an Engineering or Physical Sciences degree with a minimum classification level of 2:1 or equivalent relevant experience. This project would be suitable for a materials or chemistry student, with an interest corrosion or chemistry.

Our funders require applicants to also meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You must be a UK or EU citizen (i.e. eligible for ‘home’ tuition fees at the University) and have the right to work in Wales at the end of your studies.
  • You must be resident in West Wales and the Valleys at the point of enrolment and throughout the duration of your studies.
  • You must not be financially able to participate without the award of grant funding.

Further information regarding eligibility criteria can be found at: http://www.materials-academy.co.uk/eligibility


The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a tax free stipend of £20,000 p.a.

Closing Date 15 September 2017

Start Date October 2017

Apply Now

Informal enquiries about this studentship are welcome and may be directed by email to: M2A@swansea.ac.uk