Because of its many inherent qualities, aluminum is used today in so many applications, from those aimed at lighting to sanitization, to its use in solar energy.
The many application possibilities depend not only on the characteristics of the aluminum itself -such as strength, high reflectivity, but also lightness and recyclability – but also on the different techniques and technologies that are applied in the treatment of the metal including anodizing and PVD coatings.
A deep understanding of the metal and innovative technologies are therefore indispensable to be able to develop products that meet customers’ demands. It is this combination that is the recipe for success for Almeco, a company with more than 60 years of experience in aluminum processing that combines an extensive catalogue, aimed at different applications, with an approach focused on product customization that allows to discover and explore new qualities and new innovative applications of this metal.
Anodizing and PVD coatings: the production lines and the machines behind Almeco’s success
In addition to knowledge of the metal and the most suitable treatments to enhance the characteristics that are most relevant to each application, the company’s success also stems from the many investments made over time in technologies dedicated to aluminum surface treatment processes.
In fact, the company has a dedicated PVD treatment plant, equipped with a sophisticated air-to-air coil coating system for the continuous treatment of metal strips under vacuum. The line consists of several chambers using different technologies, so that a wide variety of complex multilayer structures (e.g. oxides, nitrides or metals) can be deposited.
This flexibility allows Almeco to:
- Treat all of Almeco’s PVD coated products on the same line
- Have a highly productive plant, as there is no need for interruptions between different processes
- Ensure quality consistency related to a continuous process
- Realize, in the same line surfaces addressed to different applications
- Ensure the sustainability of the process.
Unlike painting, no solvents are used and there are no chemical baths, as the whole process is dry. There is no wastewater or exhaust emissions that require special treatment.
A highly technological plant that has evolves with time
The opening of the plant in 2006 enabled the company to position itself as “a key player in PVD treatment of aluminum and laid the foundation for building a successful business model”, as Tito Gionfini, the company’s Head of R&D, tells us.
“The Bernburg plant was built to produce surfaces aimed at lighting applications, capable of reflecting up to 98% of visible light. Then, we needed to offer products for systems that used solar energy, which led us to include in our product range reflective surfaces with a multilayer to reflect the radiation of the solar spectrum and surfaces that can absorb all the radiation emitted by the sun. So, we are talking not just about surfaces intended to reflect, but also to retain and absorb solar energy for domestic or industrial heating systems”.
The next step was to meet needs in terms of optical characteristics required for new applications, so the company started to develop reflective surfaces for applications in the horticultural sector, or applications in the field of sanitation.
The high flexibility of this plant, which allows Almeco to coat aluminum and other metals, such as copper or steel with different types of materials, has also enabled the company to develop different types of surfaces aimed at design applications.
Anodizing and PVD coatings, a co-design approach to personalised projects
With so many colours and finishes to choose from, for instance generated by anodizing and PVD multilayer structures, the consulting service becomes essential in order to guide the customer in choosing the right product.
In fact, product customization is another service at the heart of the company’s offer. It is a service that is developed according to a logic of transparency and co-design. In fact, the client is involved from the initial stages of the project, such as project analysis and the feasibility study. This collaboration continues throughout the other steps necessary to develop a customized project, from design to prototyping, to the manufacture of the finished product.
This approach ensures that the entire process takes place with maximum transparency and that the finished product meets the required specifications. Not only that, but the consulting service also allows the company to stand by customers in addressing industry challenges and needs, as well as to continue to discover new and interesting applications for aluminum.