(Others: Ionitron, Ion-beam assisted PVD, PACVD, Laser Arc, etc. [DC sputtering])
Around the globe, arc technology commands around 85% of the overall PVD coating market for precision tools. This will also remain the case in the future, essential reasons for this being, without doubt, the continuous intensive further development of processing and evaporator technology by the large range of suppliers and users, and the extremely long useful lives of the systems already installed, which can generally also be successfully retrofitted with further optimised components to uprate them to conform to the latest technological standards. Modular system concepts amplify this trend. Even without technical analysis, and on the basis solely of market penetration, positioning and the product life-cycles of existing machines, it is natural that the future trend in PVD technology for precision tools will continue to be dominated by arc technology.
Up to now, DC sputtering technology has played only a subordinate role in the coating of precision tools, and this situation will also continue in the future. If, in the future, high-power impulse magnetron sputtering (HIPIMS) technology becomes a stand-alone solution that is at least half way cost-efficient – which is dubious – it will more likely displace DC sputtering for precision tools and, possibly, one or two other processes for highly specific niche applications. Initial euphoria was followed here by disenchantment and by the realisation that HIPIMS may well remain of scientific interest, but will not attain the great economic relevance forecast and advocated by a few, at least as far as the precision-tools market is concerned. It continues to be the case that the surface quality of an arc coating can be improved considerably more easily than the properties of a sputtered coating.
Highly ionised material-vapour plasmas generated using Arc HIPIMS hybrid technology will provide innovative future concepts and gain a market share. HIPIMS can thus be used as a complementary technology to arc technology, since this will make it possible to provide materials for coating growth which can be vaporised only inadequately using conventional processes.
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