FRONTIERS 2020: Multifunctional surfaces at the frontier of knowledge

-Programme: Elkartek, promoted by the Basque Government for collaborative research by agents from the Basque Science, Technology and Innovation Network (RVCTI).

-Period: 2020-2022.

-Objectives: To generate frontier scientific-technological knowledge in the field of surfaces and surface treatment technologies, by adapting enabling digital technologies for the creation of a new concept of digitalised surface. In addition, they will solve some of the main challenges identified in the field of surfaces.

-Consortium: Led by Cidetec, it is comprised by the Tekniker Foundation, Tecnalia, Vicomtech, MTC, BCMaterials, Gaiker and the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU).


Traditional models of knowledge generation in the field of surfaces are now becoming insufficient. There is a growing gap between current surface technologies and modern manufacturing trends, encompassed in the concept of Industry 4.0.

To address this situation, Cidetec is coordinating the Elkartek Frontiers 2020 project to transform and adopt disruptive digital technologies that will enable the technological-digital transformation of the field of surface engineering. The project consortium is working to generate frontier scientific and technological knowledge by adapting enabling digitalising technologies to the design, processing, treatment and characterisation of advanced surfaces, shaping the new and radically disruptive concept of digitalised surfaces.

Diagram reflecting the technological leap that the FRONTIERS strategy plans to take in order to achieve a revolutionary breakthrough in the field of surface treatments, based on their digital transformation.

Some of the main strategic challenges identified in the field of surfaces are being addressed, with a medium and long-term vision towards digitalised surfaces as a key factor of competitiveness in the industrial sectors driving the Basque Country, by allowing them to prepare for their technological-digital transformation.

Frontiers 2020 is structured in two working blocks:

- • The first addresses the digital transformation applied to surface design. This involves the development of methods and measurement tools for the online control of key stages, magnitudes and parameters of surface generation processes, verification of methods and correlation with surface characteristics, as well as automated online monitoring of previously determined key process magnitudes and parameters. These actions are complemented with the creation of a platform that facilitates and optimises the surface design process by means of Artificial Intelligence and intelligent visualisations.

- • The second block of work involves the intelligent control of surface degradation, for which sensor surfaces have been designed and their degradation mechanism is being studied. These sensor surfaces and non-destructive measurement systems are being implemented for on-site analysis of degradation, verifying the measurement methods and monitoring them with the ultimate aim of validating and developing demonstrators.

Besides leading the Frontiers 2020 project, Cidetec leads and participates in several work packages, sub-projects and tasks related to corrosion studies using acoustic emission measurements for the intelligent control of surface degradation and the post-processing of metallic and polymeric surfaces obtained by additive manufacturing. In this last work package, one of CIDETEC's objectives is to develop more sustainable electrolytes for the post-processing of additive manufacturing components using chemical and electrochemical technologies.