Cobham Technical Services has launched what it describes as the first comprehensive simulation solution for designing magnetron sputter coaters.
The company says the new software tool provides precision simulation of the complete sputtering process, offering a highly practical means of improving sputter target utilisation, plasma formation and thin film deposition.
Cobham believes the new software – the latest application design option in the company's renowned Opera finite element analysis multi-physics suite for electromagnetic design – has the potential to save hundreds of millions of dollars a year in this industry segment because of the costs of the high-purity materials required in surface coating applications.
The new Magnetron Sputter version of Opera provides a complete suite of three-dimensional (3D) tools for the finite element modelling, simulation, analysis and optimisation of magnetron sputtering equipment. This is a development that draws on Cobham's two decades of simulation expertise and validation in the field of charged particle beams, the company says.
The new software has been validated prior to release in cooperation with two commercial sputter coating companies: Teer Coatings (Miba Coating Group) and Colorado Concept Coatings, and by thin film experts from Thin Film Consulting, and predicts sputter target utilisation to within two percent of actual measured results.
'Industry spends several billion dollars a year on sputtering target material, and it is typical that less than half of each target is used before replacement,' said Kevin Ward of Cobham Technical Services.
'Increasing target utilisation alone by just a few percent could save hundreds of millions of dollars annually, without considering the other gains that can be achieved by design optimisation such as improved deposition quality and deposition rates, and reduced equipment downtime for target changeovers.'