The multiTask joint project funded by the Saxon Ministry of Science and Fine Arts (SMWK) and the European Fund for Regional Development (EFRE) was successfully completed. Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, ISA Installations-, Steuerungs- und Automatisierungs GmbH and VTD Vakuumtechnik Dresden GmbH laid down the foundations of a new vacuum coating process for plastic films.
Plastic films serve many purposes in everyday life. They are used for packaging food, as substrates for flexible solar cells, even as decorative films for furniture. To meet the requirements of various applications, films must be processed and coated.
There are several different procedures for the vacuum coating of plastic films that are suitable for specific cases of application, but there are also challenges, such as with coating larger film surfaces.
Electron beam evaporation is a very complex and therefore expensive process that requires a significant investment; the boat evaporation (“Schiffchenbedampfung”) process mainly involves the evaporation of aluminium and sputtering is time-consuming.
The multiTask project lays the foundation for an innovative, modular and highly flexible vacuum coating process. “The innovation of this costing process resides in its tremendous flexibility,” explained Steffen Straach, Project Head of the “Flexible Products” Division at Fraunhofer FEP. “In addition to aluminium, many other materials can be used, such as copper, silver and oxides, can be applied on any film width.”
The process can also be used as a plasma-supported procedure. The high coating rates and automated operations greatly increase the overall process. The groundwork carried out by the project partner ISA led to the design of a special power supply adapted for the process, which played a significant role in the success of the project.
As a result of the work carried out under the project, the groundwork had been laid for the partners, jointly with the operators or owner of foil coating plants to develop customized technologies, bring new products to the market or optimize existing processes.
“We are pleased to be able to take advantage of a new process platform for joint development projects,” says Dr. Nicolas Schiller, Head of the “Flexible Products” Division at Fraunhofer FEP.
The project partners would like to thank the Free State of Saxony and the European Union for their funding of the project.