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How Thin-Film Deposition Works and What It’s Used For

Written by: Denton Vacuum, LLC

Summary: Sputter deposition is an advanced form of manufacturing.

Production techniques that are used to build a car engine or transmission, such as metalizing a screw, use an advanced form of manufacturing known as sputter deposition. This method utilizes chemical compounds, processed into gaseous form, to alter the physical properties of the original object.

On a microscopic scale, the technique of sputtering is similar to repainting a chair or a wall with a can of spray paint. The object, known as a “substrate,” is positioned upon a base that is smoothly rotated, while a nozzle blasts the substrate with the chemical compound. The rotation gives the substrate an even finish across the entire surface.

PVD coating equipment applies films that make use of solutions including silicon nitride. This type of mixture is used to coat parts for airplanes, car engines and surgical equipment. The key to this technique is in the application of thin layers of material, which usually don’t surpass more than a few microns in thickness, so as to keep the substrate unaltered.

Vacuum coating systems are widely-used to produce a wafer-thin layer of materials that prevent glare or scratches. Any pair of glasses ordered with “anti-glare” coatings will have gone through this process. The chemicals only bond under precise temperatures, so materials must be superheated and then super cooled at precise intervals.

Sputtering and its ilk are now prevalent, but some of the methods involved in this process are also the same used in sterilization and pasteurization. Vacuums also supply a contained space where chemical substances can adhere to a substrate.

Bio: Denton Vacuum, LLC manufactures PVD coating equipment and sputter deposition machinery.