A shorter path from raw material to bipolar plate

Our product is a coated steel strip ready to be pressed into bipolar plates for fuel cells. The Sandvik coil-coating concept enables an industrial bipolar plate production process that shortens the entire value chain by eliminating the costly need of coating of individual plates. The principal difference in manufacturing flows from raw material coil to final fuel cell stack can be described as in the illustration above.

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Sandvik coil-coating concept for industrial bipolar plate production

When the coated steel strip coils leave the production site in Sandviken they are ready to load onto our customers’ production lines for stamping. Progressively, the shape of anode and cathode flow field patterns are formed in the coated steel strip. The anode and cathode half plates are then joined, e.g. by laser welding, and tested and inspected before they are packed and transported to be assembled in the fuel cell stack.

Batch coating of bipolar plates

When starting with an uncoated coil of strip the initial process steps (row 1 above) are the same. However, additional steps are needed to convert the stamped material into high performing bipolar plates.

  • After manufacture into bipolar plates, coating is the next step
  • The bipolar plates are then transported to a batch coating facility where they are unpacked and placed one-by-one in coating devices
  • Following the coating operation, the plates need to go through a post-coating process, e.g rinsing or curing before they can once again be inspected and packed for transportation

In the batch coating value chain the fuel cell stack assembly can now begin.