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HITECO New technologies to squeeze INTERVIEW José Ignacio Hormaeche, the sun CEO of the Energy Cluster


Today is the future


JANUARY 2014 | no. 99


The industrial applications of surface engineering and materials are many and becoming more and more diverse. Companies are increasingly calling for sustainable materials with enhanced performance, high durability and new functionalities. This trend runs parallel with the line in technological expertise that IK4-TEKNIKER has been developing for many years and in which it is a benchmark in Europe. So this edition of newtek sets out to show some examples of IK4-TEKNIKER’s activity in this area, and other developments that take place in the technological centre.




C04 Surface engineering: giving materials a new skin



C06 José Ignacio Hormaeche, CEO of the Energy Cluster

C08 Lubricant labs launch a new website C09 IK4·TEKNIKER in the media


C10 Metrology upgrades its technological services offer

C12 New technologies to squeeze the sun C14 IK4·TEKNIKER leads the European commitment to miniaturization



surface engineering gIVINg MaTERIals a NEw sKIN Estibaliz Aranzabe

Materials are crucial when it comes to building, modifying and creating products, which is why industry is making ever greater demands of the materials it uses for producing them. Companies are progressively calling for sustainable materials with greater features, high resistance and new functionalities. This is one of the reasons why the scientific community worldwide is attaching great interest to smart materials, given the unique characteristics of these “multifunctional” systems. This evolution in the needs that companies from different sectors, like the automotive, renewables or aeronautical sectors are demanding from materials has generated a boost in specific technologies geared towards increasing the value of materials. It is through their surfaces that materials interact with the atmosphere and with other materials, which means they are a crucial part of materials for two very different reasons. Firstly, it is on their surfaces that phenomena like corrosion, wear and fatigue originate and which can shorten the useful life of certain components. The second reason is that surfaces determine the chemical, electronic, optical or mechanical properties of a material.

The expert’s view: by Estibaliz aranzabe

technologies designed to modify the surface of materials in order to provide them with new properties, improve a feature inherent in the material, or to achieve a new appearance. So surface engineering does not only include deposition or coating technologies, but also any physical or chemical modification without cladding. The generating of a uniform roughness on a surface, for example, can change the matt or shiny finish of a material or its surface energy. In short, surface engineering transforms the starting materials only by modifying their “skin”.

Industrial vision and applications

En la industria se tiende a desarrollar superficies de manera The tendency in industry is to develop surfaces specially for a specific component. So the usual practice consists of a set of one-off solutions that complicate the development of new opportunities, since the most widespread problems are associated with the scaling and prediction of the behaviour of the material.

This discipline has therefore emerged out of the union between the traditional and the modern. It arose out of the need to solve wear phenomena using traditional heat treatment technologies; and driven by the need to generate new, multifunctional materials, it evolved.

Many high-tech industrial sectors, like the energy or building sectors, routinely use surface treatment technology. Basically, the application carried out by these technologies is geared towards solving certain wear mechanisms (abrasion, corrosion, erosion, fretting, etc.), since it is reckoned that the corrosion and wear of materials alone account for about 4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in industrialised countries. Given their importance, the industrial applications of surface engineering are many and increasingly diverse. The innovation activity in the sector is ongoing, and in the future will go on seeking to provide materials with a whole range of new properties like a bactericidal capacity or self-cleaning, anti-graffiti, anti-freeze or even anti-mist properties.

Today, this discipline is understood as a field within materials science that includes the application of physical and chemical

The most sought-after properties or characteristics for industry by means of surface engineering cover the whole range

That is why the term surface engineering emerged early in the 1970s. The origins and main principles of surface engineering can be found in the traditional technologies of surface heat treatment, like hardening through tempering, nitriding or carburizing.


IK4-TEKNIKER has VaRIous TEchNologIEs IN ThIs fIElD: • Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) and sol-gel • Plasma electro-deposition • Laser, nanoimprinting lithography and uV photolithography

Surface engineering arose out of the need to solve wear phenomena using traditional heat treatment technologies; and driven by the need to generate new, multifunctional materials, it evolved. that goes from properties of an optical type to those relating to healthcare including the strictly aesthetic ones. They include electronic properties like the conductivity of electrochromic surfaces. Some of the more developed ones are the optical properties devoted to sectors like construction (low emissivity glazing that prevents infrared radiation from escaping), the production of photovoltaic energy (transparent conducting oxides) or even decoration (aesthetic layers). Surface engineering has also gone a long way towards developing the technology to provide materials with tribological properties. The automotive or aeronautical sectors, among others, need to use materials with surfaces that can withstand a life in hostile environments, or exposed to chemical mediums or phenomena like friction or corrosion.

Surface engineering at IK4-TEKNIKER

Faced with the challenges posed by the new multifunctional materials and the demands for durability in more hostile environments, surface engineering is one of the future commitments of IK4-TEKNIKER within its philosophy of specialisation. This line is being applied to various R&D Units in the centre (Surface Chemistry, Surface Physics, Tribology, Micronano technologies and Ultraprecision Processes) and brings together all the knowledge needed to establish a strategy of the centre and a future vision.

IK4-TEKNIKER has various technologies in this field: physical and chemical cladding techniques (Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) and Sol-gel), surface chemistry transformation technologies without cladding (plasma electro-deposition) and technologies for physical surface transformation without cladding (laser, nanoimprinting lithography, UV photolithography). It also has a characterisation laboratory where it is possible to develop and validate the different surfaces as a step prior to applying them in an industrial environment. IK4-TEKNIKER’s team that specialises in Surface Engineering is working to find future opportunities for this discipline by comparing its technological capacity with real industrial needs and directly approaching companies that are expressing their short-, medium- and long-term needs. This direct relationship between the companies and IK4-TEKNIKER has enabled the centre to specify concrete development aims and to redirect its efforts towards a shorter term. IK4-TEKNIKER, which has accumulated long experience in State as well as European projects, and in industrial or knowledge generation within the field of Surface Engineering, is now facing two main technological challenges. Firstly, to globalise the knowledge generated in the various one-off solutions so that it can facilitate the development of new opportunities, since it is capable of predicting the behaviour of a material or of simplifying its scaling. Secondly, the centre is seeking to develop multifunctional materials that may require the bringing together of various technologies. The ultimate aim of these challenges is to address the practical needs of industry. IK4-TEKNIKER is addressing the needs expressed by the clients through various technologies by specifying which is the most suited in each case, bearing in mind industrial-scale production and the design of a protocol to validate the definitive solution.



“The technological capacity of the basque country in renewables is highly significant” INTERVIEW GIVEN BY JOSÉ IGNACIO HORMAECHE, cEo of ThE ENERgy clusTER

The objective for 2020 is that renewable sources should account for between 14% and 17% of final energy consumption.

J. I. HORMAECHE. Energia Clusterreko zuzendari nagusia


Technology has to be one of the differential keys that will enable Basque companies to compete on global markets.

JosĂŠ Ignacio Hormaeche, current CEO of the Energy Cluster and former CEO of the Basque Energy Board, knows the energy sector inside out. In this interview he spells out some of the points set to play a more significant role in the positioning of the Basque energy sector over the coming years. ____________

How much weight do renewables have in the Basque economy right now and what is their future potential? In the energy balance for 2012, renewables accounted for 7.6% of the final energy consumption in the Basque Country, and if we are talking about electrical power, 6.3% of the demand for this kind of energy was generated from renewable sources. These figures are way behind the 12% that the Energy Strategy of the Basque Country set as an objective for 2010. In the new Energy Strategy of the Government of the Basque Country, the objective for 2020 is that renewable sources should account for between 14% and 17% (depending on various scenarios) of final energy consumption. However, the achieving of these aims is regarded as increasingly complicated following the moratorium on renewable energy premiums and other fiscal measures affecting power generation, which the Spanish Government has decreed over the last two years. What position is held by Basque technology in the renewable energy sector internationally? Fortunately, the technological and commercial capacity of Basque companies in renewable energies is very important, despite the limited presence these technologies have had in our territory. In the Energy Cluster the companies in the renewables sector have a very significant weight, particularly those involved in wind, solar thermal and photovoltaic energy. In the Basque Country we have nearly a hundred companies in the various renewable value chains employing about 9,000 people; nearly 10% of them are involved in R&D projects. And it’s worthwhile highlighting companies positioned internationally with outstanding market shares, like Iberdrola (promotion of renewable plants), Gamesa (wind energy) or Sener (solar thermal). Do you reckon technologies like parabolic-trough technology on which IK4-TEKNIKER is working could open up new business niches for Basque companies? Parabolic-trough technology as well as others involving solar concentration like the central tower have undergone considerable development in Spain over the last 4 years, where nearly 2,000 MW of power has been installed in solar thermal concentration (CSP) plants. Countless Basque companies have taken

advantage of this market by supplying engineering, components and services for these plants; this has enabled them to acquire considerable know-how and an advantageous competitive position in these technologies. The next challenge facing these companies is a dual one: firstly, to take advantage of their good positioning so that they can offer their solutions on new international markets (Morocco, USA, South Africa, Chile, Middle East, etc.); and secondly, to improve efficiency and cut production costs. It is in this second challenge that the technological advances that IK4-TEKNIKER is developing could be decisive in making manufacturers of equipment and solutions competitive on markets where competition is global.

In the Energy Cluster the companies in the renewables sector have a very significant weight, particularly those involved in wind, solar thermal and photovoltaic energy.

Are you familiar with the HITECO project? Do you think European projects of this type with a significant presence of Basque organisations could be decisive for positioning the Basque Country as a leading player in renewables? I am familiar with the work IK4-TEKNIKER is doing within the HITECO project and in the course of various visits to the Centre I have been shown the prototypes and the important results being achieved in relation to optical coating technologies through PVD for solar radiation absorber tubes. As I see it, it is very important for R&D Centres in the Basque Country to be active in international projects of this type; by collaborating with top centres they can develop new technologies and improve the existing ones which they can then make available to our companies. What role should R&D centres be playing in improving the competitiveness of the Basque energy sector? Technology has to be one of the differential keys that will enable Basque companies to compete on global markets on the basis of the quality of their products and the added value of their solutions. And in this ongoing challenge to improve competitiveness through technology, R&D Centres must continue to be their best allies (as they have been since they were set up 30 years ago) in capturing knowledge and in applying this knowledge in product and service innovation projects. As far as we are concerned, we at the Energy Cluster are trying to do our bit in this area by encouraging interaction between companies and Centres, by setting up working groups and meeting forums and by breathing new life into collaboration projects.


IK4-TEKNIKER’s lubricant labs launch a new website IK4-TEKNIKER is launching a website for Integral Lubrication Management IK4-TEKNIKER’s lubricant labs are launching, a website for offering the best solutions and for handling requests for services online.

Lubricating oil analysis


Diagnosing the causes of faults

Education and Training

Knowing the state of the oil and knowing the state of the equipment are vitally important when it comes to proactively preventing possible equipment failures caused by inadequate lubrication.

The Consultancy service works to implement and perfect organisation, methods and working procedures relating to lubrication. This service assesses the lubrication conditions existing in industrial plants and on the basis of them a programme is designed for the reengineering of lubrication geared towards maximizing asset reliability and availability by means of proper lubrication.

The Diagnostic Service to determine the causes of failure is designed to detect faults in industrial components, and offer solutions to minimize the consequences of recurring faults in production processes, in which dependability is a key factor.

We offer training in predictive lubrication techniques to keep equipment functioning efficiently and increase the reliability of industrial plants. The training courses are given on the client’s premises as well as in training facilities.




This is how the media covered the educational day on robotics organised by IK4-TEKNIKER and Eureka! Zientzia Museoa (Science Museum) to mark European Robotics Week. The day was also attended by the kTBot robot, designed by IK4-TEKNIKER and funded by the Social Schemes of the Kutxa savings bank; the robot has been on the staff of the Eureka! Zientzia Museoa since July 2013.


Ander Ansuategi of IK4-TEKNIKER and Idoia Mujika of the Eureka! Zientzia Museoa discussed the present and future of robotics.


A new guide for the Eureka! Science Museum of Donostia-San Sebastian.





Itziar Cenoz, IK4-TEKNIKER’s marketing director, explained the content of Robotics day taking place at the Eureka! Zientzia Museoa.

The kTBot robot will be working as a guide at the Eureka! Science Museum.

IK4-TEKNIKER designs the kTBot robot which will be working as a guide for the visitors to the Eureka! Science Museum.




Experience in measuring and upgraded offer of services METRologIaK bERE ZERbITZu TEKNologIKoEN EsKaINTZa bERRITZEN Du IK4-TEKNIKER’s Metrology Unit is offering maximum precision solutions to address the measuring and calibration needs of companies. The Unit has ENAC accreditation for the calibration of templates and measuring equipment. What is more, its head, Antonio Gutierrez, is secretary of the ENAC technical committee on dimensional calibration and participates actively in the committee’s various working groups.



Development and introduction of new measuring technologies (R&D&i). Analysis of existing measuring techniques and their applications. New templates allowing traceability in new scenarios to be guaranteed.

Geometric verification

Machine-tool verification

Volumetric verification

Measuring methodologies and uncertainty evaluation (ranging from micro to large-scale) Development of comprehensive projects on special measuring systems through the integration of various technologies. • Specification • Conceptual design • Detailed design • Manufacturing and turnkey delivery


Measuring of parts

• From small components to large parts. • At our laboratories or on the customer’s premises.

Dimensions, shapes and roughness

Comparative measuring using CAD files

Digitisation and inverse engineering


calIbRaTIoN acTIVITy


Calibration of templates and equipment

Management module

AT IK4-TEKNIKER’s laboratories or on the customer’s premises. (ENAC CALIBRATION No.28 / LC10.018)



Shared management of the calibration plan

Equipment management through the TEKALNET program. Company: It carries out the internal calibrations by means of a calibration programme. IK4-TEKNIKER: It manages and carries out external calibrations.

Integral management of the calibration plan Equipment collection and delivery logistics. Calibration of equipment and templates in the laboratory and on the customer’s premises. Contracting out of calibrations in other areas. Checking of acceptance criteria. Maintenance and repair management. Notification of anticipated calibrations. Keeping records. Telemanagement, TEKALNET software (data is accessed over the Internet by the user). Technical support during audits.

Management of calibration documentation and planning. Equipment record cards. History of calibrations. History of maintenance. Producing of labels. Broad option of filters. Production of lists according to filters implemented.

Calibration module

Equipment calibration and maintenance record. Record of calibration results. Uncertainty calculation in accordance with requirements in force. Production of certificates. Automatic checking of criteria fulfilment.



Exploring new technologies to squeeze the sun HITECO EUROPEAN PROJECT AIMS TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY AND REDUCE COSTS IN SOLAR CONCENTRATION PLANTS IK4-TEKNIKER is working on the European project HITECO, funded by a 5-million euro budget and geared towards improving the efficiency of an innovative technology for concentrated solar power and cutting the costs involved. ____________

The centre has built a machine to be able to deposit selective coatings onto 4-metre long tubes, a key innovation in the standardization of the technology developed and its scaling for reliable mass production.

Nobody is casting doubt any more on the huge future potential of solar power, but the current technology is facing difficulties like efficiency, which remains limited when it comes to transforming sunlight into electricity. That is why, rather than focussing on the more extended formula of photovoltaic panels, researchers are already working on other technologies that will allow the juice to be “squeezed” out of solar energy better. One of these new technologies is solar concentration which involves focussing reflected sunlight onto a series of mirrors in a very small area until a very high temperature is reached. The energy is stored in the form of heat to be later transformed into electricity. This storage capacity is what turns it into one of the renewable energy technologies that is gaining more appeal for the power market. However, the mass dissemination of this technology still depends on cutting costs and increasing efficiency. In order to increase the generating capacity of this technology, the European Commission through its 7th Framework Programme has launched the HITECO project; it has a budget in excess of 5 million euros, and the Basque R&D centre IK4-TEKNIKER is collaborating in it, along with another 9 R&D centres and companies in Spain, Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic.



N° 256830.

The project, led by the company Aries Ingeniería y Sistemas, also has the collaboration of the Industry Association of Navarre, the Cidaut Foundation, the Institute of Materials Science in Madrid, the Swiss centre ETH, the Czech company Kavalierglass and the German companies Witzenmann, Trelleborg and Pfeiffer.

Concentrated light

Solar concentration technology functions differently from the classical solar energy of photovoltaic panels. In plants of this type the sun is reflected onto huge mirrors that reflect the radiation onto a central tube. The fluid circulating inside the tube is heated to several hundred degrees centigrade and is pumped to a plant where the heat is transformed into electrical power by means of turbines. This technology is still a long way from reaching maturity and to date there are only two top companies in the world with the capacity to set up plants of this type. The HITECO project, which is highly complex, is seeking to improve efficiency in each of the elements in a solar concentration plant, from the coating of the tubes, to thermal insulation and including vacuum control and joints. There are 10 work packages in all with IK4-TEKNIKER involved in a third of all the research areas.

tigrade. By means of various innovations, including a coating that allows that greatest possible amount of solar radiation to be absorbed and which minimizes heat losses, the HITECO project is seeking to reach a temperature of 600 degrees. For this purpose, IK4-TEKNIKER has designed a coating with different layers of superimposed metal oxides, a highly reflective metal and an absorbent cermet, which allows the nearby infrared solar spectrum as well as the visible one to be captured. What is more, the centre has also built a machine to be able to deposit selective coatings onto 4-metre long tubes, a key innovation in the standardization of the technology developed and its scaling for reliable mass production. The system has a 12-metre long vacuum chamber and 4 evaporators. The control of the thickness of the layers is crucial in these coatings. The system developed by IK4-TEKNIKER can achieve homogeneity of 5 nanometres all over the tube perimeter and throughout the 4 metres of its length.

Interdepartmental co-operation

In order to put the innovations developed in the HITECO project into practice, the consortium members are building a pilot plant for which IK4-TEKNIKER will be providing 100 metres of tubes equipped with the advanced surface coating.

One of the main aims of the project is to increase the temperature of the heat transfer fluid, currently at 400 degrees cen-

The results of the project will help to lower the manufacturing costs and maintenance of solar plants of this type. The efficiency of the energy transformation process is also expected to be increased by raising the working temperature of the collectors. All this means that it will be possible to multiply the number of solar plants and that the consumption of this source of renewable energy will become widespread.

Given the sheer size of the project, a number of departments in the R&D centre (for example, mechatronics and electronics) are involved in the various work packages alongside experts in PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition), a technique for applying materials to provide the surfaces of materials with specific properties.






N° 609110.

The R&D centre is leading the HINMICO European project, which has a budget of 5.5 million euros and is designed to develop technologies and integrate them into the large-scale production of multi-material and multi-functional microcomponents. ____________

The European Union’s industry and institutions have been making a tremendous effort over the last few years to address the global trend towards miniaturization. For companies, this process has posed a number of major challenges, like the largescale manufacturing of microcomponents. To this challenge is added their potential application in a whole range of industries. The key unit of action in the research to address these challenges is the multi-material microcomponent; this is the sum of various components of different materials assembled into a single part; it will not be possible, subsequently, to extract the components comprising it without destroying it. On this premise, the European Union has taken a step forward through HINMICO, an ambitious research project led by IK4-TEKNIKER’s Ultraprecision Processes Unit and funded by a budget of 5.5 million euros. 15 partners are participating in it and they include research centres, including IK4-IDEKO, which belongs to IK4 Research Alliance, universities and companies from seven European countries.

Integrating technologies

The process to integrate technologies is developed around a core technology like the micro-injection process, which is currently the main process for the mass production of microcomponents. More specifically, the HINMICO project is focusing its efforts not only on the actual microinjection process itself but also on two variants of this technology: over-moulding and in-mould assembly, key elements in the large-scale production of multi-material components. Around this core the HINMICO project will be going further into the development of production processes through the manufacture of high performance micro-moulds, the safe and accurate handling of the microcomponents throughout the various stages of the process and their on-line monitoring, thus guaranteeing the final quality of the product at all times. Likewise, additional developments and integrations based on back-end process technologies will be made; they will enable the specific functionalization of the microcomponents that require it to be carried out (coatings, laser treatment, the joining of polymers by means of welding, etc.).

The HINMICO project is geared towards obtaining microcomponents that three industrial sectors have been calling for: the mobility and transport, electronics and biomedical sectors.

Polymer injection

The project is seeking to develop and integrate various technologies to do with the technique of polymer micro-injection, and large-scale production lines for multi-material and multifunctional microcomponents. The advances achieved in the research and which are being developed during the project could be applied to all the microcomponents or microparts that are obtained by means of micro-injection processes or their variants: over-moulding and in-mould assembly. That way a commitment is made to achieve a considerable cut in manufacturing costs and, what is of no lesser importance, the possibility of increasing the added value of the product thanks to the fact that additional functionalities are incorporated through the injected material. According to Joseba Esmoris, IK4-TEKNIKER researcher in charge of the project, such wide-ranging sectors like transport, healthcare or communications are set to benefit directly from the results that are generated during the development of HINMICO.

The HINMICO project is geared towards obtaining microcomponents that three industrial sectors have been calling for: the mobility and transport, electronics and biomedical sectors. In the mobility and transport sector, the manufacture of a microactuator by means of micro-injection will be tackled; it acts by controlling the air flow in order to lower aerodynamic resistance, and therefore fuel consumption. In the electronics sector, a passive microwave component will be manufactured for short-range, high capacity, urban mobile networks. And the healthcare sector will be reflected in the project in applications like the development of a new generation of multi-material dental implants that speed up the patient’s recovery process, and the production of reinforced polymer dental brackets able to withstand the stresses applied to them during the final treatment phases.

The objective in the research to address these challenges is the multi-material microcomponent; this is the sum of various components of different materials assembled into a single part.


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newtek nº 99 | Today is the future  

Technological expertise to satisfy the industrial demand on sustainable materials with enhanced performance, high durability and new functio...

newtek nº 99 | Today is the future  

Technological expertise to satisfy the industrial demand on sustainable materials with enhanced performance, high durability and new functio...