Dec 5

Metal Finishing with Sputter Deposition

Category: Technology

Written by: Denton Vacuum, LLC

Summary: Metallic finishes are applied using advanced manufacturing techniques.

Ever wonder how motorcycles, bicycles and cars all get that anodized finish to the metallic parts they use? Some of that work is old-fashioned elbow grease, but advanced manufacturing techniques like sputter deposition can help give metals the brushed finish hobbyists and collectors expect in high quality products.

Basic Technique

The piece to be finished is placed inside of a vacuum sealed chamber, where the process of plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition begins. The metallic coating of the substance is broken down into a gaseous form, using extremely intense heat. The molecules are then fed into a vacuum sealed chamber, which is cooled at precise intervals. As the chamber cools, the molecules come to settle upon the substrate. In order to form a smoother finish, the substrate may be rotated so the molecules can coat its surface evenly.

Using Magnets

Another method utilizes magnetron sputtering, which pulls and reflects particles based on their ionic charges. This technique is often used when an even coating is desired, because of how the molecules move within the chamber. Typically, magnetron sputtering systems leave no visible defects and the layers are microns in thickness.

Final Thoughts

There are a ton of uses for this technology that extend beyond the finish of hobby products. Plastics, for instance, can receive a metallic coating to reinforce their strength. That greatly reduces the costs of producing screws and other small objects needed in the construction of jet or car engines.

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