Frequently, supposedly high acquisition costs are put forward as a counter-argument against plasma technology. But even low-pressure processes are far less expensive than they may have been many decades ago. As a result of the versatile and increasing use of vacuum technology, not only in the semiconductor industry but also in many other branches of industry, the price for the creation of a vacuum has dropped substantially once again in past years. This applies both to the acquisition and provision of the plants and also – as a result of high technical quality and high efficiency – the running costs.
The financial costs of acquisition, installation and operation of a plasma plant are set against the high running costs of wet-chemical processes. Merely dispensing with processes involving various baths – besides the regular exchange and disposal of media there are also high costs for waste disposal – results in savings. In addition, wet-chemical methods can also cause high acquisition and maintenance costs – for often the chemical media have to be constantly monitored during use to check their quality. This requires the appropriate maintenance of the plant technology and sensors.
The outcome of all this is that plasma technology – in spite of substantially higher initial investment costs – on the basis of lower operational costs (e.g. disposal costs for baths) at same or better quality for example in the coating of contact lenses – has in the meantime replaced wet-chemical methods.