All in safe hands: The supply of raw materials, production, transport to the customer, the delivery date. A large number of display manufacturers in Asia rely on sputtering targets from Plansee.
Should the transport container be fitted with wheels when it is delivered? And if so, where exactly should they be fitted? Can the lid of the transport container be opened on the correct side? In such a way that the sputtering target can be lifted from the crate and installed in the coating system without any complicated maneuvering?
Admittedly, these may be finicky details, but they are of great importance. And they are details for which Plansee High Performance Materials has the right answer for each and every display manufacturer.
After all, a transport container and its valuable contents, planar or rotary sputtering targets, weighs an impressive 800 kilograms or so. And this container needs to be transported safely from one side of the world to the other. From the production plant in Reutte to one of the four bonding shops in Asia, where the sputtering targets are used by one of the many end customers for coating displays or solar panels. Which means that the crates must be designed for carriage by air, optimized for forklift handling and suitable for transportation into cleanrooms.
“We make use of every visit to our customers to get ideas for how we can do things better and in what ways we can increase customer benefits and improve customer service still further,” explains Ulrich Lausecker, responsible for sputtering target business at Plansee High Performance Materials.
It is often a case of subtle signals that have to be interpreted properly. Immediately after Chile had suffered an earthquake in mid-April, 2015, Lausecker started receiving calls from concerned customers in Asia. They wanted to be assured that there would be no interruptions to the supply of sputtering targets. The background is that Plansee sources molybdenum powder for manufacturing sputtering targets from the Chilean company Molymet. The mines are located in the north of this long country. It is there that the ore is converted to fine metal powder. Lausecker was able to give the all-clear. On the one hand, many tonnes of the valuable metal are always on container ships on the way industryto Europe at any given time, and on the other, Plansee has several suppliers. The customers were reassured. And once again they were reminded that in Plansee they have put their faith in a supplier that has the entire supply chain under control, and has a complete understanding of the raw materials it uses. Even if we are talking about tungsten sputtering targets. In this case, the raw material comes from the sister company Global Tungsten & Powders. The company manufactures tungsten powder in the USA.
Supply chain under control
Sputtering targets are manufactured in a series of many individual production steps. Molybdenum ore is converted to molybdenum trioxide, which is then further processed to form pure molybdenum powder. This powder is then pressed into blocks, sintered at high temperatures and formed into sheets in several passes. Between the various steps, the material is constantly reheated and thoroughly cleaned in chemical baths. The final shape of the sputtering target is then machined from the molybdenum sheets and polished. Much the same applies when manufacturing rotary sputtering targets, which are becoming
Right on the doorstep of its customers in Asia, Plansee prepares the sputtering targets to be used for weeks or months in the coating machines. The sputtering target is bonded to a copper plate using indium. Plansee offers this bonding service in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. And that’s not all: As soon as the sputtering target has come to the end of its service life, the customer puts it back in the transport container. Plansee then takes on the job of picking it up, conditioning it and recovering the materials.
Indeed, all the various processes that underpin delivery and collection of the sputtering target are taking on ever greater importance. Together with its customers, Plansee draws up forecasts for future material requirements. Lausecker: “The better the forecast, the greater the flexibility with which we can react to unplanned requirements.” This includes being able to deliver an urgently needed sputtering target within a week in the event that the plant would otherwise come to a standstill. The average delivery
time is 4 to 5 weeks. But there is much more to our service: “For instance, when they start purchasing from us, our customers can choose the currency in which they wish to receive invoices. Or they can choose the country from which they want their sputtering targets delivered from our local bonding shops in China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan. As far as possible, we react to our customers’ needs and to local legislation,” explains Lausecker.
Everything under one roof
Plansee manufactures the ready-touse sputtering targets using cuttingedge, highly efficient manufacturing technologies. Significant investments were recently made to increase machining capacity. This has given us the basis for sustainable growth and the ability to meet our customers’ needs efficiently. “From powder to a product that is ready to use, everything is under one roof at Plansee. This makes us unique and means that we are an absolutely reliable partner for our customers,” says Lausecker.