PVD coating – high performance thin film solution for precision tools & more
PVD refers to Physical Vapour Deposition which is a coating method that makes use of gaseous coating matter which evaporates under physical deposition and condenses on the substrate where it settles to form a solid, very thin coating layer. The thickness of a PVD coating varies from 1 μm to 15 μm making it an interesting high performance coating for tools, production technology, precision mechanics and consumer goods such as kitchen and bathroom accessories. PVD coating serves as an excellent protection barrier against wear due to the corrosion protection and layer hardness it provides.
In this article we will get to the bottom of physical vapour deposition coatings; take a closer look at the PVD coating process, the coating’s advantages and its application. We will also introduce some PVD coating specialists in Singapore.
The advantages of applying physical vapour deposition coatings
PVD coatings are especially interesting for sectors such as manufacturing technology and precision tools which is no wonder. This high performance coating has become irreplaceable thanks to the following benefits it brings along.
- Corrosion resistance
- Extremely hard
- Almost impermeable
- Resistance to wear
- Non stick properties
- Abrasion rersistance
- Good dimensional stability
- An environmentally friendly process
These properties are especially beneficial when it comes to tools for cutting, milling, drilling, punching, forming, pressing and alike. PVD coated tools are found across industries – their uses range from medical technology o the food processing industry to general manufacturing technology. As PVD coating is also a decorative finish, it is used in the panels in the automotive industry, cutlery and fittings as well as kitchenware etc.
The 3 ways to carry out a PVD coating process
The PVD coating process has been around ever since the 1970’s. As an answer to the demand for different functional and aesthetic attributes, different PVD processes have been developed – here we will take a look at the 3 most common ones. These processes are used to PVD coat plastic, metals, glass (lenses) and other materials.
1. Thermal evaporation
Thermal evaporation exists in two types: pulsed laser deposition and electron beam deposition. Both of these PVD coating processes use energy to evaporate a metal into a vacuum. Common metals used in thermal evaporation are titanium, aluminium, copper, zirconium and copper. The vacuum lets the vapour particles travel to the cooler production parts. Here the vapour will condense again and crystallise to form a thin hardened metal phase.
Uses: computer industry, micro-fabrication, products such as film packaging.
2. Sputter deposition
Industrial manufacturing knows two types of sputter deposition processes:
- Ion beam sputtering – To vaporise the material, an ion beam directs a high electric field towards its surface. This is what causes the metal vapour gases to ionise. After the ionising the momentum transfer directs the ions towards the surface to be PVD coated.
- Magnetron sputtering – In this type of PVD coating process, positively charged ions are accelerated by an electrical field and superimposed on to the target surface.
Uses: medical industry – manufacturing of laboratory products and optical films.
3. Arc vapour deposition
One of the most common types of arc vapour deposition PVD coating is Low Temperature Arc Vapour Deposition (LTAVD). This PVD coating process uses a low voltage arc to evaporate solid metal into vaporised metal particles. These evaporated metal atoms become one with reactive gas molecules (usually nitrogen) in a plasma phase, which condenses on the target parts. The use of plasma as a transportation manner makes PVD coating also a plasma coating process. The target parts spin on a multi axis rack carousel so that an evenly distributed coating can be produced. These coatings come in colours that include shades of black, bronze, graphite, gold, nickel, blue, purple and even rainbow-combinations of multiple colours. Arc vapour deposition is the most environmentally friendly PVD process and it offers a lifetime of corrosion protection and abrasion resistance.
Uses: automotive interior and exterior parts, consumer products, industrial equipment and tools.
PVD coating materials
No only can PVD coating be applied in different processes but it can also use different materials to coat substrates. Depending on the chosen material, the hard surface appears in different colours. TiN (titanium nitride) is by far the most used material of PVD coating – it exists in several blends which all result in impressive colours. The mixtures are metallic hard materials or ceramic materials and nitrogen. In the table below you can find the common PVD materials as well as the coating’s thickness, colour, application temperature and hardness.
|PVD coating material||PVD coating colour||Film thickness||Application temperature||Microhardness|
|Titanium nitride (TiN)||Gold||1 – 7 µm||450 °C||2300 HV|
|Titanium carbon nitride (TiCN)||Purple / Dark grey||1 – 5 µm||450 °C||2300 HV|
|Titanium aluminium nitride (TiAlN)||Black / Anthracite||1 – 5 µm||450 °C||3500 HV|
|Titanium aluminium carbon nitride (TiAlCN)||Rose gold||2 – 4 µm||450 °C||3500 HV|
PVD coating is generally applicable on all metal substrates with tempering temperature above 500°C – hard metals, steel alloys, carbon steel, cast iron, stainless steel, titanium, non-ferrous metals (copper, zinc, brass, bronze) and aluminium. PVD coating is the final finish on these metals. Therefore, it is crucial that the process provides a flawless coating for example as an anti reflective coating on glass and lenses.
PVD coating companies in Singapore
As physical vapour deposition coating is a method that also allows the application of the most innovative coatings (such as nano polymer coatings), and traditionally provides tools and components with life long protection, the demand for PVD coating services is increasing. In Singapore, there
are several companies that can help you with your PVD coating project. Here are two of them:
- JAG Components Pte LTD. | 57, Ubi Avenue 1, #06-12, Ubi Center, Singapore 408936
- Opto Precision Pte Ltd | 11 Toh Guan Road East #04-01, APP Enterprise Building, Singapore 608603
In case you have a specific PVD coating project in mind, or wish to start PVD processes yourself, do not hesitate to contact us. Our experts are here to help and happy to provide you with additional information on PVD coating equipment, suppliers and services. Just click the “request a quote” button below and send us your enquiry!