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In-line metallization - Lean PVD
At IV Moulding in Leksvik we have an in-line metallization process that we call Lean PVD. Our Lean PVD production cell is a full integration of a 300T injection molding machine, a 6-axis robot and a metallizing unit from Impact Coatings.
Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) is a technology where a material is evaporated and condensed to form a thin film coating over an object (substrate). Evaporation in PVD can be forced by several methods. The method we uses is magnetron sputtering, where the coating material is "blasted" from the target by a plasma. All PVD processes are performed under vacuum.
We currently use aluminum when it comes to coatings but a wide range of coatings consist of metals or ceramics, usually nitrides, carbides and oxides is possible with some adjustments to the equipment. The highly flexible PVD method, thicknesses of the coatings can be varied. It very much depend on the part and application. Thicknesses from a few atomic layers up to approximately 10 µm is possible with PVD but in our Lean PVD process we typically run 0,12-0,2 µm.The coatings can be optimized for various characteristics such as electrical, mechanical, optical and decorative.
The substrate does not need to be metallic or electrically conductive, making it possible to coat non-metallic isolators, plastic and ceramic objects.
The use of PVD is increasing rapidly in other industries to replace less environment-friendly chemical and galvanic methods.