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Nature abhors a vacuum, but modern technology depends on it


The SCHMID Group, a leading supplier in photovoltaic technology, has a vast array of competencies, including thermal and vacuum processes, printing, metallization, vision and inspection, laser technology, and automation and intralogistics. The field of wet processes has been part of the portfolio since the 1960s, and the group is one of the top players in the sector. Mobile phone technology represents another growing business field. As phone displays become ever-thinner, etching chemistry is in higher demand. The SCHMID Group has the necessary expertise to meet this demand.

Vacuum technology for smartphones

The vacuum technology segment’s extensive know-how really comes into play with new applications. “We have coating techniques that we can offer,” says Gerard Löbig, Senior Director Sales for the Business Unit Display & Optics. He joined the company in early 2011 but has worked in the vacuum technology sector his whole career. “The glass on modern smartphones has a conductive, transparent layer that is sensitive to touch. This layer requires vacuum technology in its manufacture.”

Another new application lies in the market for window films. SCHMID Vacuum Technology GmbH provides prototypes of smart window films that can alter their transparency when an electrical current is passed through them. “The films are extremely energy efficient and feature a low emissivity filter which blocks infrared rays,” Mr. Löbig explains. “This prevents heat from entering the building. These kinds of markets are set to develop further in the future, and we can be a part of them.”

“Glass doors can be made opaque at the push of a button.” Gerard Löbig Senior Director Sales for the Business Unit Display & Optics

Solutions for a warming planet

With this application in particular, SCHMID Vacuum Technology GmbH finds its markets wherever energy conservation is an important topic. Countries in the Sun Belt, where air conditioning is necessary, could benefit from insulated yet transparent windows. The automotive industry can use window film technology in its sunroofs.

“Meeting rooms can apply our technology for privacy,” Mr. Löbig adds. “Glass doors can be made opaque at the push of a button.” The company sees its biggest market in films that are not directly built into windows, so customers can retrofit their windows themselves as they deem necessary.

A young company that draws on long-standing expertise

It is the company’s family operation that makes SCHMID stand out. The clear structures allow the company to move quickly in decision-making and implementation. In addition, the vacuum technology division in particular offers competitive products that are state of the art. “Because SCHMID Vacuum Technology GmbH is a very young company, we are starting with a blank page,” Mr. Löbig says. “We are not in a rut. We can see where improvements can be made.” Another advantage is the expertise and years of experience the staff brought with them to SCHMID Vacuum Technology GmbH.

“We offer employees good prospects as our market is future oriented.” Gerard Löbig Senior Director Sales for the Business Unit Display & Optics

A highly qualified team

The vacuum technology subsidiary has 80 employees, most of whom have been with the company since its establishment. Development is paramount for the company, but its work does not stop there. It also has mechanics, electricians, technicians and other specialists to guarantee its products work the way they should.

“We are based in the Silicon Valley of vacuum technology, so there is no shortage of qualified staff,” Mr. Löbig highlights. “We are also glad to train our employees, especially if they are originally from another industry. We offer employees good prospects as our market is future oriented. Thanks to our skilled R&D expert team, we are able to offer various vacuum processes such as PVD, evaporation and sputtering, PECVD, e.g. for anti-reflection coating on solar cells, plasma treatment of substrates as well as reactive and non-reactive processes.”

Worldwide potential

SCHMID Vacuum Technology GmbH is active worldwide, especially in China, Malaysia and India. Mr. Löbig is convinced that the company’s impressive performance in 2012 was no flash in the pan. “Sales of 23 million EUR in 2012 is an incredible result to achieve straight out of the gate. It is clear that the market needs and wants our technology,” Mr. Löbig notes.

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