A Hot Time At The Rotax Factory

October 2017 Feature Lane Lindstorm Viewed 1783 time(s) Web Exclusive

Talk about making our heads spin.

We were fortunate enough to be invited recently by BRP to tour the Rotax factory in Gunskirchen, Austria and during that tour we saw so many cool and interesting processes as we watched all facets of engine production that it made our heads spin.

Some things we can talk about and others, well, you’ll have to wait to see what’s coming down the straße.

Easily one of the most interesting parts of the Rotax factory tour was the plasma coating. We’ll admit that process is something we knew very little about although Ski-Doo has been touting the benefits of plasma coated cylinders for a while now.

Here’s a little of what we learned:

  • Rotax installed its plasma coating machine four years ago.
  • The temperature in the plasma coating process hits a toasty 15,000 degrees C (if you can believe the Internet that converts into 27,032 degrees F).
  • There are 65 process steps for each part being plasma coated. For includes, flow speeds, voltage, powder feed rate, time the cylinder block is in process, rpm of the plasma torch, Argonne gas concentration and the cooling temp of the water for the torch, just to name a few.
  • It takes four minutes per block to plasma coat.
  • Five layers of plasma coating are applied on four-stroke cylinders and six layers on two-stroke cylinders.
  • Rotax is the only company in the world that offers plasma coating on two-stroke cylinders. Also, Rotax developed the process of plasma coating for two-stroke cylinders.
  • The coating amounts to 300 microns total in all layers.
  • Three gasses are used in the plasma coating process. A special mixture of Argonne and hydrogen are used in the plasma coating torch and a third gas to transport that gas mixture to the torch.
  • Dry ice is used to clean the parts after plasma coating rather than sand blasting.
  • It’s 2 to 4 Euros ($2.35-4.71 USD) cheaper per block to plasma coat cylinders vs. nikasil coating.
  • Rotax officials tell us plasma coating is more environmentally friendly than nikasil coating.
  • Plasma coated cylinders hold oil better and provide for better lubrication of the cylinders than nikasil coating.
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