Aerospace and defense

We are active in the aerospace and defense area since 25 years with a broad product portfolio from tribological coatings to hermetic integration of optical windows.

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Tribology

We are experts in tribological coatings for aerospace and defense applications. Our products range from space certified MoS2 coatings to high performance DLC coatings. In addition we also offer nanometric thin metal layers made by precision electroplating.

Sapphire Windows

In aerospace applications, sapphire windows are used for laser communication, sensors and camera systems. For the defense sector, sapphire windows are often used for visors and camera windows. Sapphire crystals are transparent in the visible and near infrared, and are extremely hard and durable. These properties make sapphire the substrate of choice for windows, domes and lenses operating in demanding environments.

We are experts in thin-film coatings on sapphire components. Thanks to our many years of experience, we support our customers in the selection of sapphire windows or lenses and also take care of procurement and logistics if requested.

Solid lubricant coating

Particularly for the aerospace industry, we offer a Molybdenum Disulfide (MoS2) thin-film PVD coating called Microslide, which achieves unsurpassed low friction values in vacuum and is therefore ideally suited for space conditions. We coat moving components such as axles, ball bearings and gears for rocket and satellite parts. Our certified VILAB MoS2 coating has also been used for the Mars Rover.

Microslide

Our VILAB Molybdenum Disulfide MoS2 tribological coating is ideal for space applications.

Key performance parameters:

  • Chemical composition: Chemically pure MoS2
  • Chemical structure: Hexagonal
  • Layer thickness for ball bearings: 0.2 - 0.5 µm
  • Layer thickness for sliding parts and gears: 0.5 - 1.5 µm
  • Coefficient of frictiong in ultra-high vacuum: 0.005
  • Coefficient of frictiong in air (97% humidity): 0.15
  • Temperature range of use: -260°C to 350°C
  • Adhesion: Excellent on metals (steel, Al, Ti)
  • Nanohardness: 5 to 10 GPa (on high-speed steel)

Factsheet for download:

pdf

Diamond-Like Carbon

Our Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) coatings are based on the world-renowned PLATIT technology. Our strength lies not only in the coating itself, but also in the pretreatment, where we achieve good adhesion to different substrate materials. In addition, our DLC coatings can be removed if required without leaving any residue.

DLC HARD

Our DLC HARD coating consists of a hybride process between PVD and PECVD. We achieve an excellent adhesion between the component and the a-C:H DLC coating due to our ultra-smooth HiPIMS metal adhesion layer.

Key performance parameters:

  • Overall coating thickness: 2 µm
  • Nanohardness: >32 GPa
  • Coefficient of friction (RT at 50% humidity): 0.1 - 0.2
  • Color: Anthracite
  • Maximum application temperature: 350 °C (660 °F)
  • Possible process temperature: <180 °C (<360 °F)

DLC PLUS

Our DLC PLUS coating consists of a hybride process between PVD and PECVD. In comparison to our DLC HARD coating, DLC PLUS has an additional top-layer of MoS2 of 0.5 µm. This multilayer stack leads to outstanding coating properties, which are characterized by excellent adhesion to the component, a hard and smooth base layer of a-C:H DLC and a high-end tribological surface finish layer. DLC PLUS reliably protects moving components from tribo-oxidation and cold welding.

Key performance parameters:

  • Overall coating thickness: 2.5 µm
  • Nanohardness: >25 GPa
  • Coefficient of friction (in vacuum): <0.01
  • Color: Anthracite
  • Maximum application temperature: 350 °C (660 °F)
  • Possible process temperature: <180 °C (<360 °F)

Nanocrystalline metals

We offer tribological thin-film metal coatings with nanocrystalline structure, which are optimized for high-temperature applications. We produce these coatings by precision electroplating.

Nanocrystalline Silver Coating

This product is applied on ball and plain bearings and provides excellent tribological performance for high-speed and high-temperature applications in dry or vacuum atmosphere. Our in-house developed precision electroplating process not only guarantees ultra-fine crystalline structures of silver in the nano/sub-nano range, but also enables extremely smooth layer surfaces that exhibit excellent tribological properties. Under vacuum condition, our nanocrystalline silver coatings can be operated at >600°C showing a low coefficient of friction of <0.2. We offer our nanocrystalline silver coating in a wide thickness range from 50 nm to 10 µm.

Hermetic Integration

The hermetic housing of optical systems is essential to ensure a reliable and long lifetime in aerospace environment. The integration of optical windows to metal housings by soldering is the high-end solution for various industries.

Solderable coatings

Our solderable coatings are qualified for high-demanding applications and show excellent performance in hermeticity (helium-tight), as well as in mechanical and chemical resistance. Our unique and inhouse-developed process combines PVD and electroplating technologies allowing to deposit multilayers optimized in particular for AuSn and AgSn soldering alloys. The structure of our solderable coating stack provides multifunctional properties, which facilitates the soldering and brazing process, even for flux-free processes.

We offer our solderable coating in two versions:

  • Standard version: Soldering on the outer zone of the flat surface of the window
  • Compact version: Soldering on the side of the window, dome or lens, allowing the use of the full aperture of the optical window

The solderable coating stack can be adapted to the requirements of the application.

Optical Filters

The excellent mechanical and chemical properties of sapphire make it the material of choice for optical windows for high-end applications. However, the high refractive index of sapphire generates excessive reflection on both sides of the window, which must be compensated by antireflection coatings. We are experts in optical filters on sapphire crystals and offer adapted coatings for both the protected and exposed side of the sapphire window. Our coatings add excellent optical performance to the overall advantages of the sapphire material.

Customized filters and reflectors

Our modular approach allows customization of optical filters. We offer the following modules:

  • Spectrum-tailored optical filters on sapphire windows and lenses for the VIS and NIR range. These filters are based on mutlimaterial stacks.
  • Integration of ITO to further functionalize the optical filter (e.g., heat reflector or transparent window heating).
  • Metal coatings for reflectors, as Al or Ag, including protection layers against oxidation.
  • Structuring technologies for coatings (available inhouse), from cover masks to photolithography.

Our strength is the high level of customization, enabled by the modular approach and large inhouse technology portfolio.

Ultra-resistant antireflection coatings

In case optical windows are exposed to harsh environments, like sand, salt-water or dirt, the lifetime of the optical filter on the exposed-side of the sapphire window is critical. This is relevant for multiple defense applications as well as for rovers in aerospace industry.

We developed an optical material stack which is ultra-resistant against mechanical and chemical exposures, which is called SINI®. There are two configurations of SINI® available:

  • Broadband VIS-NIR filter: Camera windows and (rifle)scopes
  • Selective laser NIR filter: Laser visors and communication windows

Customer-specific filters are possible on request.

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