Thin Film and Vacuum Technology for Advanced Automotive Assemblies 2012-01-1055
Thin films and vacuum technology are used frequently throughout advanced, environmentally friendly automobile manufacturing. From automotive light-weighting of conventional ICE automobiles, to hybrid and EV manufacturing, thin films deposited in vacuum systems, vacuum heat-treating, and vacuum leak testing are a major part of automotive device, component and sub-assembly manufacturing. Starting with new applications of polycarbonate glazing by plasma coating, which provides lower CO₂ emissions, greater design freedom and cost reduction through parts consolidation. For high-strength, light-weight automotive steel stampings used in chassis and body parts, wear-resistant coatings are applied in vacuum systems to provide wear protection and to extend the stamping die lifetimes. Thin film vacuum equipment is also used for the manufacturing of: control circuits, film capacitors (EVs, PHEVs and HEVs), power ICs (hybrids), sensors (air bag, tire pressure, etc.), secondary batteries (EVs), coatings for mirrors, interior lighting, lamps (LEDs and reflectors), front grilles, touch-screen displays used in navigations systems, and gauges. Vacuum brazing is used to fabricate automobile radiators and air conditioners. Vacuum leak-testing is used to test the integrity of a wide-array of components, from tire rims and heat exchangers, to transmissions, braking systems, airbag inflators, and torque converters. This paper will elaborate on the vacuum equipment and processes used in advanced, in-vehicle product solutions.