PVD surface treatment (Physical Vacuum Deposition) is a coating process that allows thin layers of metal and ceramic materials to be applied in a vacuum using physical methods such as evaporation. Combining different materials and thicknesses can modify a surface’s optical and physical properties.
From reflective surfaces to small components for industry to innovative solar concepts: by changing the characteristics of the layers applied to a surface, it is possible to extend the fields of application to potentially any field.
If the expertise of a partner like Almeco is added to the benefits of PVD treatment, anything is possible. With more than 60 years of experience in aluminium production, Almeco initiated producing its PVD surface line in 2006. Since then, thanks to a customised approach and continuous investment in state-of-the-art technology, the brand has provided tailor-made solutions for various sectors.
PVD treatment for reflective surfaces: Almeco’s vega®line
Almeco’s experience in understanding client needs across different industries has enabled the company to study, design and propose variants within a single product line.
In the field of reflective surfaces, for example, Almeco has developed vega® a catalogue of PVD-treated materials that have total reflection values of up to 98%. This number is 15% greater than simple anodised aluminium.
“Almeco supplies the vega®reflective material in PVD-coated aluminium strips for the lighting industry, special surfaces for UV sterilisation, solar concentration systems, daylight and in the electronic sector” explains Almeco researcher Andrea Tassinari. Thanks to a specialised approach – PVD surfaces are manufactured at the German plant – geared towards customisation, Vega surfaces are suitable for a wide variety of applications.
For example, the movement of Almeco’s aluminium reflectors in vega®98 used by Palazzoli to produce its innovative FIT 55 street lighting system enables light to be directed where it is most needed. The vega®UV-C material has been used for the most advanced led UV-c air sanitiser, the filterless Ray sanitiser. And again, vega®98 PVD aluminium micro-optics fulfil the safety, visual comfort, and energy-saving requirements of X-Tigua-led fixtures for road tunnel illumination.
PVD surface treatment and customisation
“Different metals and ceramic materials, including titanium oxide, aluminium, nickel, and niobium oxide, can be applied using the PVD treatment” Tassinari continues. “This enables the materials’ different properties to be tailored to the specific application.”
From resistance to high temperatures and humidity to special optical characteristics, Almeco’s experience in PVD processing allows the company to choose the most suitable materials. “Ours is now a well-established process that allows us to move quickly to meet customer needs” explains Tassinari. Furthermore, Almeco’s PVD plant is not limited to aluminium surfaces. For example, vacuum-coated copper and steel can also provide advantageous characteristics.
One of Almeco’s undeniable strengths, in addition to the already-developed applications, is the network of partners and suppliers available to the company’s specialists, enabling the development of innovative and pioneering solutions.
Almeco’s approach to PVD customisation
Different applications require customised approaches during project development. “Usually, this process starts with analysis, calculations and simulations of the most suitable coating. We then proceed with tests, including industrial tests, varying the coating composition and evaluating possible final solutions” says Tassinari.
This development process is not a ‘static’ one. It is an interactive course of action that moves forward hand-in-hand with clients until defining a final product that best meets the application’s specific requirements.
PVD treatment, innovative applications through customisation
The pursuit of perfection helps the Almeco team extend the field of application of its products to achieve unprecedented efficiency values.
“A very challenging case that we developed together with a client who needed material for solar concentrators led to an application with great added value” concludes Tassinari. “In this case, the main goal was to obtain maximum resistance to solar radiation without loss of reflection. The client carried out a series of tests – some of them very aggressive – on the proposed prototypes. Development took over a year but resulted in a material that met all requirements and is now used for steam production in the oil industry.”
Another example is TiNOX® Outdoor, the first highly selective solar surface that can be installed outdoors without additional transparent covers. The absence of glass reduces the cost of the solar panel, while the durable surface makes new applications possible.
These are just a few examples of the possible uses of PVD-treated surfaces. Almeco is always ready for new challenges with the aim of extending the fields of application of a technology that, with its intrinsic properties, can play a leading role in the global transition towards a sustainable future.