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What are PVD Coatings?

PVD Coating Process Background

  1. What is PVD?

    PVD stands for Physical Vapor Deposition. It is a thin-film coating process. This is a process applied in a vacuum chamber to deposit thin-film coatings on component surfaces.

  2. How does the PVD coating process take place?

    PVD coating is carried out in a vacuum chamber at an extremely low-pressure range (typically 10-3 to 10-9 Torr. Standard atmospheric pressure is 760 Torr) where in the component to be coated is placed in front of a high purity target source in a plasma environment (ionized gas). A target is the primary material source used for the coating (for example: Titanium for Titanium Nitride, Chromium for Chromium Nitride, etc.) This process involves three critical steps:

    1. Evaporation: Removal of material (atom-by-atom) from the target source using sputtering, cathodic arc, electron-beam or other methods.
    2. Transportation: Transfer of material from the target source to the component surface under plasma due to potential difference between the target and substrate.
    3. Condensation: Nucleation and growth of the coating on the component surface by combining the transferred target source atoms with reactive gases to form the ceramic (non-metallic) coating compound.
  3. Can PVD coatings be applied using different techniques?

    PVD coatings can be applied on components using different methods such as arc evaporation, magnetron sputtering to name a few. HEF specializes in plasma enhanced magnetron sputtering, CAM (coating assisted by microwaves) and modified arc evaporation coating technologies.

  4. PVD Coating Types and Properties

  5. Are there different types of PVD coatings?

    Yes. There are different types of PVD coatings that can be offered depending on the application requirements. Titanium Nitride (TiN), Chromium Nitride (CrN), Titanium Aluminum Nitride (TiAlN), Titanium Boron Nitride (TiBN) are some examples of PVD coatings.

  6. What are the benefits of these PVD coatings?

    PVD coatings offer the following benefits:

    • High hardness
    • Excellent wear resistance
    • Reduced frictional properties
    • Low deposition temperatures (120°C-350°C)
    • Maintaining dimensional tolerances for precision components
    • Excellent adhesion to substrates
  7. What is a typical PVD coating thickness range?

    In general, PVD coatings are thin film and are in the range of 1 to 5 microns. For reference, 25 microns equals 0.001 inches. Red blood cells are around 8 microns in diameter, while human hair is around 80 microns in diameter. Thus, PVD coatings are extremely thin-film coatings with thickness specification defined within this 1 to 5-micron range depending on the application requirement.

  8. What is the hardness of PVD coatings?

    PVD coatings have a hardness value around 1500 – 4500 HV (Vickers) depending on the type of coating offered. Vickers (HV) is a microhardness unit for measuring thin film coatings. For reference, 900 HV corresponds to 67 HRC (Rockwell C) hardness. Generally, carbon steels have a hardness range around 250 HV (25 HRC), nitrided or nickel and chrome plated steels fall in the range of 600 HV to 1000 HV surface hardness. Thus, PVD coatings are extremely hard and hence, very durable and wear resistant.

  9. What is CERTESS® NITRO?

    CERTESS® NITRO is a tradename of HEF Group for Nitrogen based PVD coatings. Depending on your application, there are different options that can be provided within the family of CERTESS® NITRO coatings. Some of these include:


    • CERTESS Ti (TiN)
    • CERTESS X (CrN)
    • CERTESS T (TiAlN)

PVD Coatings: Processing Details & Applications

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