Norseld drives world-first diamond-like carbon coating solution

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By Melissa Keogh

Medical laser company Norseld has established what it believes is a world-first method for creating a thin diamond-like carbon coating at room temperature.

The Adelaide CBD business has been developing the revolutionary thin film coating using its laser platform CoolDiamond DLC for future use in the defence and aerospace industry.

Norseld managing director Peter Shute says the company’s industrial laser is used to create the film at room temperature and is able to be coated onto any material including silicon and plastic.

The coating solution is designed to withstand corrosion, abrasion, scratching, sand, salt and oil, making it a sound choice for the military and defence industry.

Peter says other methods to create diamond-like coatings have existed for some time but were only able to be produced under extremely high temperatures.

“What we do is use our industrial laser to create the film at room temperature,” he says.

“Because our industrial laser is scalable, we can scale that (coating) to a very large extent, and then you can start to coat things like big parts of aeroplanes that you can’t put in high temperature environments.”

A single layer of DLC provides protective properties and anti-reflective performance.

“Nobody else can do this because there is no other scalable industrial laser of this type in the world.

“From a research point of view people have been using lasers to create diamond films for many years, but they are very small scale and slow and not able to be commercialised.

“Our industrial laser has this very unique capability of scaling up.”

Peter says the defence industry was an “obvious choice” for CoolDiamond DLC to target and that the company is currently trialling the film solution with a number of defence primes (major defence companies).

“There is a nice fit with the fact that we’re located in South Australia and that a number of primes are based here, there is so much going on,” says Peter, who has a background in medical devices and orthopaedics.

SA is considered the defence state of Australia, particularly since securing the majority of works within the Federal Government’s $90 billion naval shipbuilding program.

“Defence is a bit like the medical device industry in that it’s ultra controlled with many regulations … we (Norseld) are a medical device manufacturer primarily, so we can slip straight over into the mindset of what is required for the defence industry.

“So that is an advantage in that respect as well.”

The diamond-like carbon coating also holds potential for the world of retail eyewear, including sunglasses and ski goggles, as well as the medical devices industry.

“Luxottica, the world’s biggest sunglass maker, is interested in being able to coat on plastic for wear protection,” Peter says.

“The other thing is diamond-coated medical implants like pacemakers and stents and anything else that floats in the body. The body doesn’t reject diamond because it sees it as one.

“As you start to think about what might be possible, your mind boggles.”

Peter says the advanced manufacturing solution is still in implementation stages and is in the process of being “scaled up”.

Norseld was established in Adelaide more than 30 years ago, growing to design, manufacture and export laser systems to 30 different countries.

It has 20 staff and exports 90% of its products which include laser platforms used in the medical industry.

Peter says SA is a leader in Industry 4.0 and is renowned for its leading-edge advanced manufacturing solutions.

“I think we’ve become very good at understanding where our strengths lie and capitalising on them,” he adds.

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