September 2023 Newsletter

Hello from Colorado! We hope everyone has enjoyed their summer activities with their families and friends.

It was a busy summer at Plasma Process Group, and we are doing our best to work toward shorter lead times for delivery of the common consumables. We owe our successes to our customers. We can’t thank you enough for supporting us.

Tech Tips – Ion Source Water Cooling Issues

Why is my water interlock not met?

Many of us in the field of optical coatings and ion beam deposition know that many RF ion sources require water flow for cooling. Water is usually cooling both the source shroud and the RF antenna. They normally run in series with the water supply entering directly through the antenna first, then through the shroud before returning to a chiller or closed loop water cooling system.

The Polyethylene water lines to the RF antenna feed through require electrically isolative tubing to keep your RF power from transmitting to ground through the tubing. Always be aware that this tubing needs to be 7 feet long or longer for both supply and return of the RF feedthrough.

There are a few things to be aware of with your cooling system. First, is making sure your water is non-conductive so RF power can’t get to ground. The goal is to be as close to 7 megaohms as possible. (As measured from the feedthrough to ground). Second, make sure the pH level is as close to 7 as possible to minimize corrosion and electrolysis. Just remember “777”. Lastly, flushing your cooling system biannually or annually at a minimum, to reduce mineral and algae build up in the cooling system.

Some of you may have experienced leaks outside your chamber from the Polyethylene tubing that supplies water to your source for cooling. If your water flow is blocked or restricted the poly tubing can weaken, burst and your source will overheat. If you run the source with no water flow, the same results can occur when the water is finally engaged.

There are other causes of issues like this such as a bad water flow limit switch. We have seen them stay on even when there is no water flow and eventually melt the poly tubing at the feedthrough. Much of this issue can be avoided by following maintenance protocol. We certainly urge you to do planned maintenance over letting it slide till it fails.

Ion source water restriction

Now for the issue we don’t think you would have thought about. Can you guess what the image above is? If you guessed Polyethylene tubing, you are correct. The poly tubing itself can be a source of failure as well and require maintenance.

This image shows two ends of the poly tubing that were cut off from the entry and exit side of the RF feedthrough connection points of a 16cm RF ion source. The piece on the left with the most restricted center is from the return line side and the one on the right is the supply line.

This restriction is actually not residue or corrosion. It is the poly material itself after many cycles of heat and cold from operation. It has slowly deformed. It can happen if your flow is too low. The Poly will break down and shrink over time. The supply side stays relatively normal because the heat cycles are far less variable or extreme. As you can see, the one on the left is almost completely plugged. In this case the flow switch was working on the system and finally indicated that flow was restrictive enough to send an alarm to the operator that there was not enough cooling to meet the interlock setpoint.

Ion source water restriction

One key point here is to trust interlocks when you are not performing best maintenance practices. Waiting till something fails will commonly create more than one failure in your cooling system. This can lead to ongoing troubleshooting in your system by causing clogs in multiple areas and flow switch failures. In many cases, days of system downtime will follow.

With this Poly tubing issue, we outlined in the above images. The easiest and quickest maintenance step to solve this issue is to simply cut off a half inch of the poly with the ferrule on it and install a new ferrule for reconnection. This literally takes minutes and can keep your flow where it is supposed to be. How often you should do this depends on how proactive you are at doing your recommended maintenance. In this case the tubing restriction took about a year and a half with good maintenance practices.

Because some systems are using individual chillers, and some are using closed loop facility cooling systems, it is important for the maintenance technician to be aware of the issues with conductive water and RF power. Many chemicals are used to reduce algae and adjust pH levels. Sadly, almost all of them will affect conductivity of the water. RF will travel through water if conductive enough and you then lose RF power from your source. Be sure your team is aware of this when looking at adding chemical treatments to your cooling system.

Always follow maintenance protocol on your ion source cooling system. Remember “777”. 7 feet of poly tubing for both return and supply lines to your source RF feedthrough, 7 megaohms for conductivity of your water, and a pH level of 7 for your cooling water. Be sure to clean and flush your systems cooling lines through your source, target assembly and chamber walls. Biannually is recommended for worry free operation.

We hope this segment was beneficial for you and your team. We certainly want you to be successful and maximize your equipment uptime. Please be sure to contact us if you are in need of spare ion source parts, grids or power supplies. We’re happy to help.

Plasma Process Group Techne system operation

Plasma Optik Is Attending The SPIE LDT Conference

We are excited to be attending the SPIE Laser damage conference in Livermore/Dublin, California starting on the 17th of September. If you happen to be at the conference please be sure to look for us. This should be a great conference to attend for Plasma Optik. We look forward to being there.

Today, our Techne has exceeded many of the specifications we had only dreamt of reaching 1 year ago. Especially in the LDT arena. Plasma Optik has a variety of target materials available and is more than happy to discuss your needs when you are ready. Please contact Brett Buchholtz via email at [email protected] or give him a call today at 970-786-6218. He is happy to discuss your project with you.

July 2023 Newsletter

April 2023 Newsletter

February 2023 Newsletter

Sept. 2022 Newsletter

New Extra Wide Ion Beam Assist 

We have some exciting news this month. Plasma Process Group has just officially released our new 20 cm focal length divergent molybdenum grid set for thin film coating companies looking to capitalize on better control in their ion assisted deposition systems.

This new product is a great choice for those manufacturing new state-of-the-art systems, and for those interested in upgrading their older legacy systems that are still in operation today. The benefit of this extra wide beam profile is that it provides a way to cover a much larger area for your assisted deposition processes. It is the perfect grid set for very large area chambers.

The 23 cm Sourcecoupled with this new grid set can provide a wide range of capabilities for a variety of process requirements. The source can be flange or internally mounted, as shown in the image below. The internal mount configuration allows for adaptation to many coating systems. It can be adjusted to maximize your uniformity in your system. Please call us with your ideas.

Screenshot 2022-08-22 171525

Longevity In The Industry
Back in early 2006, we were concerned about our customers that were starting to see power supply failures on their legacy systems. We also saw that the type of power supply technology was becoming obsolete. We knew at this point that we needed to bring a new power supply to market. We knew we had to produce a drop-in replacement to our customers with this equipment and keep them going. This decision was a pivotal point in the future of Plasma Process Group.

By 2009, we had officially installed our very first I-Beam 703 Power supply. With the many improvements that have since followed, fast-forward to today and we now provide 10 variations of our I-Beam series power supplies to customers all over the world. We continue to keep our customers running production and supporting R&D.

We continue to manufacture our I-Beam series supplies for both RF and DC applications. With well over 250 I-Beam power supplies in the field, we know there are still others facing these eventual legacy failures so we will continue to be here for you. Call us. We’d be happy to help.


Screenshot 2022-08-24 082436

   Don’t Forget To Follow Us
In case you missed it, we are now active on LinkedIn, so be sure to follow our page. It is slowly coming online with great information about us and our products. We also intend on sharing some helpful technical tips to those that work with ion source equipment very day.  Sign up and stay tuned. We look forward to hearing from you.
Call us now for your ion beam equipment needs at
Please visit our website at Plasma Process Group. Contact our Sales Manager  Dan Bouillez  to set up a time to discuss your ion source needs with us.

July 2022 Newsletter

Ion times header

July 2022

Some Exciting News

We are reaching out to our Plasma Process Group customers with an opportunity to increase your productivity. Plasma Process Group founder Brett Buchholtz started a sister company “Plasma Optik”to help support optical coating companies like yours. 

Plasma Optik is now ITAR compliant and offering optical coating services using ion beam deposition. They can assist you with coating backlogs and other research and development needs.  Please visit their website for more information at

Jim Kraus is our Senior Coating and Sales Development Engineer who will get the ball rolling on your next project. Jim comes to Plasma Optik with a broad background in optical coating design, optical coating systems and coating process development. He will be ready to take on your next project or special coating needs immediately. Please contact him with questions at [email protected] to see how he can help you.

Screenshot 2022-07-20 140545

Focus On Quality
Plasma Process Group as with all manufacturers, is always trying to improve. Even the smallest of improvements can have a big impact on your end product’s life, reliability and operation. We started years ago when we began as a company. As an example, one important component required for neutralization of our RF ion sources, was the RFN gas isolator.

Previous designs had a high failure rate. When RFN’s were being reassembled, they would break. Though not considered a consumable, the gas isolator was originally designed with a threaded tube end that would crack and even break off while tightening the collector nut during reassembly. Today, with improvements to this component’s design and manufacturing processes, this part was drastically improved. Quality is, and always will be an important to part of our business at Plasma Process Group. 

23cm Blue2b

Our Newest Ion Source
In case you missed it, we now offer a large 23 cm ion source for some large area applications. It can be purchased with 33 cm or 20 cm focal length divergent grids offering flexibility to meet your requirements. This ion source can help with your thin film quality in a variety of systems and applications. If you are building a new E-Beam system or just updating your old one, we can help you achieve those more challenging coating specifications that have become more critical in today’s thin film world. Call us with your questions and ask us how we can help you add this large area ion source to your system.
Call us now for your ion beam equipment needs at

May 2022 Newsletter

Ion times header

May 2022

We Hope You Enjoyed The Course
We'd like to send a special thank you out to all who took the time to attend our Ion Beam Technology course held at the SVC show in Long Beach, California this year. It was great to see you there. We hope that the course was informative and beneficial to you.

The technology is unique, but it offers great opportunities in a variety of industries. If you attended the course to gain more knowledge about ion beam, this was the right course to attend. Brett Buchholtz has been a
pivotal ion beam expert for many years and was happy to share his experience with you. We look forward to more conversations with you throughout 2022 and beyond.  
We're Getting Busier By The Day
We would like to welcome all our brand-new customers this year and are so happy to support them and see things improving over recent months with regard to business activity both in country and abroad. We hope the trend continues with us, and more importantly, for our customers. 

Over the past year it has been very difficult to get a handle on lead times and material shortages because of the
ever-changing supply chain issues that seem to be affecting every one of us in some way or another. Thankfully we are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel as our lead times seem to have stabilized.

As we mentioned in our previous newsletter, be sure to keep us in mind if you are trying to stay ahead of the curve with component spares and ion beam equipment for upgrades and systems. We hope to have you covered.

23cm Blue2b
We've Got A New Resource For You

For systems that require a large, broad ion beam, we now offer a 23 cm ion source. This ion source can help with your ion beam assisted deposition film quality. Converting your evaporative system into an IBAD system will help you achieve more challenging coating specifications that have become more critical in todays thin film world. Call us with your questions and ask us how we can help you add this large area ion source to your system.

Haven't heard about us? Please check out our
website for more details on this ion source and many other state of the art ion beam source products we  manufacture.

If you are working on new and emerging technologies, we are here to help you by adding ion beam your process. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us. We would certainly like the opportunity to help you on your next big project. Give us a call.
Call us now for your ion beam equipment needs at

Please visit our website at Plasma Process Group. Contact our Sales Manager  Dan Bouillez  today.
Banner footer

March 2022 Newsletter

Ion times header

March 2022

Thanks To All Of You
We’d like to send a special thank you out to all of you at SPIE 2022 for taking the time to stop and say hello to us at the Photonics West show in January. We had a blast! It was great to see many of our long-time colleagues and meet many new folks who had come by for the first time. Your presence was greatly appreciated, and we look forward to more conversations throughout 2022.  
Get Ahead Of The Supply Chain Curve
Our General Manager, Linda, and her crew are working diligently to make sure we have limited disruption of critical parts from our vendors. We are seeing a wide range of supply chain issues with new ones cropping up daily. However, our current inventories are healthy, and we are ordering for the future.  

Please let our sales team know your annual demand requirements and we’ll do all we can to try to keep the lead-times and costs down for any mission critical hardware you might require. Be sure to get ahead of the curve. 

Improved Beam Estimator
Interested in seeing an ion beam profile that meets your requirements? Checkout our new and improved “Beam Estimator
We recently updated our ion beam profile estimator.  This handy tool allows you to input ion beam conditions including a downstream location.  An estimated beam profile is plotted which can be downloaded to a CSV file for your own use.  

Beam profiles are an excellent method for determining etch and wear patterns.  They can also be used to predict sputter target life.  This
web-based tool is located in our Learning Center or by clicking here: Graphing Calculator 
Below is a typical profile from a 16 cm source with 3 focal point grids.  The current density in mA/cm^2 is plotted against radial position for a location 30 cm downstream.  Give our estimator a try to see what shape your ion beam may be!”  

Screenshot 2022-02-23 162140
Call us now for your ion beam equipment needs at

Please visit our website at Plasma Process Group. Contact our Sales Manager  Dan Bouillez  to set up a time to discuss your ion source needs with us while you visit.  
Banner footer

7330 Greendale Rd, Windsor, CO 80550, USA
Phone 970-663-6988, Fax 970-669-2312
[email protected]

If you would like to unsubscribe to our newsletter click here
Please send the e-mail and you will be removed from our newsletter list.

January 2022 Newsletter

December 2021 Newsletter