Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®)  News

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SwRI Ion Beam Surface Modification Facility offers new capability

New plasma bucket ion source allows nitrogen ion implantation over larger areas

San Antonio -- July 8, 1996 -- Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®)  has added a 120 kilovolt plasma bucket ion source to upgrade its Ion Beam Surface Modification Facility. The addition makes SwRI's ion beam facility the largest and most versatile commercial facility in North America for nitrogen ion implantation.

Unlike conventional techniques such as plating or vapor deposition in which a coating is applied to the surface of a material, ion implantation bombards the surface with energetic atoms. Because ion implantation is not a coating process, there is no increased dimension, no surface change, and no thermal deformation of the workpiece. Ion implantation can be used to harden the metal surfaces of tools such as stamping dies, knives, and molds.

The plasma bucket source allows SwRI to carry out nitrogen ion implantation over large areas. "We can treat surfaces up to four square feet or as many as 100 tools per batch depending on their size," explains Dr. James Arps (Dr. Kent Coulter), a research scientist in SwRI's Materials and Structures Division.

SwRI has added the plasma bucket ion source as part of a pilot program to demonstrate to industry that ion implantation and other surface modification processes are viable and economical on a large scale. "We hope to show that what we do here in our facility on a small scale can be extrapolated to industry for a wide range of industrial tools and equipment," Arps notes.

Related press releases:
SwRI demonstrates cost-effective diamond-like carbon coating
SwRI offers diamond-like carbon coating process for biomedical applications

For more information about the ion beam facility, contact Deborah Deffenbaugh, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510, Phone (210) 522-2046, Fax (210) 522-3547.

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