What is PVD Coating?


When last did you enjoy a long-lasting coated iron bowl?

Look around the country, you’d notice various tech sectors trying out different coating strategies.

Of these coating strategies, Physical Vapor Deposition is distinct, peculiar and prominent.

The bad news is: learning about Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) coating may appear formal, scientific and boring. But no, PVD coating is what you can know, easily.

With what I’ll show you now, you’ll understand the whole thing about PVD coating.

Ever since Robert Grove discovered this steel protecting strategy in 1852, research and improvements have enhanced its significance. What I’ll reveal to you today will bolster your understanding of it.

In case you never heard of this, I’ll break everything into pieces for you. I’ll reveal its benefits; the materials you can coat; and how you should apply this coating.

Shall we?

Table of Contents
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    What is PVD Coating?

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    PVD coating is a technique in which a solid material is converted into its vapour phase to coat another material. The process turns the solid material (called the target) into vapor. It then condenses to cover the other material known as the work-piece.

    PVD coating, as a technique, has many processes. Each process has a unique procedure for coating the work-piece. Examples of popular PVD processes are Evaporative Deposition and Sputter Deposition. PVD coating’s uniqueness is well spelt out with its prominence and usage by several steel factories and companies.

    All the processes lead to a thin film later on in the work-piece. This property is unlike other coating techniques that result in a thick-coated layer. It’s also from this property that PVD coating got the name “Thin Film Deposition coating.”

    General Steps involved in PVD Coating

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    PVD coating has different processes. Yet, every process follows three general steps explained below:


    Vaporization is the conversion of the target to its vapor phase. Depending on the process you follow, we have many ways of converting the target to its vapor phase. For example, with evaporative deposition, you only need to heat the material in a vacuum to a very high temperature. This dislodges and vaporizes the atoms on the target’s surface, making them available for the next step.


    The reaction step is crucial in any PVD coating process you choose. Why? You can determine properties like hardness and color through reaction. You must also notice two things under this step. One is that it’s in this step you’d decide how strong the target’ atoms bond with the work-piece after condensing. Also, you must make sure that no chemical reaction occurs during this stage.

    You’ll achieve a strong adhesion when you use reactive gases like nitrogen, oxygen, and acetylene. These gases can form compounds such as oxides, nitrides, etc., that protect against corrosion and rust.

    Also, by controlling the gases and the time, you can determine aesthetic values such as the coated material’s color. Achieving a chemically un-reactive atmosphere is possible with inert gases. Based on many industries, Argon is the most common inert gas used in PVD coating.


    After the reaction stage is complete, i.e., the coating process is complete, the vapor/target’s atom condenses to form a thin film coat on the work-piece. This coating brings out the aesthetic vibrancy. This doesn’t only beautify; it implements the sound quality of the influence of the former stage. After this stage, your steel is left for cooling, before you’d start enjoying it.

    Benefits of PVD Coating

    PVD coating is a popular strategy due to its unique qualities.

    No matter the process you go by, you get to enjoy its excellent benefits.

    Here are certain benefits you’d experience.

    Durability and Reliability

    Materials coated using the PVD techniques are made to last forever. The rigid character, corrosion-resistance, and abrasion-resistance make it impossible to wear out or fade when material under its coating is well maintained. The properties of the end material depend on the target material and other factors.

    “I guess some chap was smart enough to see that at various times the colors would be different,” says Jonh Dobek, V.P. Commercial Stainless Steel and Aluminum of Kloeckner Metals. “By controlling the process, they realized they could create varying colors in a repeatable fashion.”

    “It also has a strong presence in the medical field for surgical implants,” Dobek says. “Metallic implants are frequently coated to help prevent the leaching of nickel or chrome into the body. It also has a ‘metal to metal’ lubricity factor that improves the life of the implant.” John Dubek infers.

    John Dubek already nailed it. You can’t have a PVD coated material and regret it.


    You can coat any material using the PVD technique. You can also use any material as a target in the process. As a result, a work-piece or target may be inorganic or organic coated materials. Examples of excellent materials you can use are Plastics, Iron, Gold, Titanium, etc.

    Uniform Coating

    Material coated using PVD technique all have a uniform coating. To ensure there is a uniform coating, the work-piece rotates at a uniform velocity.

    Low Maintenance

    Materials coated using the technique has a higher resistance to various environmental factors. They are corrosion resistant, abrasion resistant, durable, etc.

    Aesthetic Value

    PVD coating is famous for the quality it provides. However, it is more popular and used for its aesthetic value. For example, you get to enjoy many colors, finishes, etc., making the work-piece elegant. The use of PVD coating for its aesthetic value is visible in its use in industries such as automotive and telecommunications.

    Environmental Friendliness

    Unlike other coating techniques, PVD Coating is environmentally friendly. You polish a location’s colour with a set of uniform coated steels are. The steps involved in each coating process do not pollute the environment. No matter what, PVD coating processes wouldn’t release bad chemicals or air into the atmosphere as the other forms such as electroplating do.

    When it comes to selecting a choice, considering environmental priorities, PVD costing wins the lead.

    Besides, when PVD is rightly applied, the environmental safety is guaranteed. From testimonies, products under the PVD coating’s influence last longer in durability and usage. This isn’t only advantageous to the environment, but also a way of designing the aesthetic quality such environment had.

    PVD coating fills the loop-hole using environmentally safe options like Chromium Nitride(CrN) and titanium nitride. PVD ceramic coatings exceed traditional electroplated style of layers because PVD coatings have exceptional ruggedness and wear resistance.

    Materials under PVD influence don’t fade away in colour. It has considerable resistance to corrosion resistance. PVD coating is also used as toppings on corrosion-resistant electroplating to provide the aesthetic, wear-resistant quality of finishing. Typically, PVD offers benefit qualities with no ecological danger.

    What Materials Can Be PVD-Coated?

    You can coat a lot of materials using the PVD coating technique.

    Below are common materials you can coat with the technique and where they are applicable:

    • PVD Coating Gold
    • PVD Coating Brass
    • PVD Coating Copper
    • PVD Coating Stainless Steel
    • PVD Coating Graphite
    • PVD Coating Titanium
    • PVD Coating ABS Plastic
    • PVD Coating Polyimide
    • PVD Coating Polyetherimide
    • PVD Coating Fluorocarbons (Teflon)
    • PVD Coating Polyurethane
    • PVD Coating Polypropylene
    • PVD Coating Polyethylene
    • PVD Coating PVC
    • PVD Coating Polyester
    • PVD Coating Nylon
    • PVD Coating Phenolics
    • PVD Coating Polycarbonate
    • PVD Coating Epoxies
    • PVD Coating Glass
    • PVD Coating Zinc Casting

    Before selecting a material, we have a lot to consider.

    One, some materials require a base layer for a better resistance to environmental factors. For instance, steel, brass, and copper need a nickel/chromium base layer.

    Two, some materials, due to their structural backup, work in different conditions.

    Examples are plastics, aluminum, and zinc casting requiring low temperature. Therefore, they use the Low-Temperature Arc Vapor Deposition.

    The Application of PVD Coating

    PVD coating technique has a wide range of applications at different industrial levels.Its high application is due to the benefits illustrated above. Below are a few industries that apply PVD coating in their production.

    Consumer Goods

    PVD Coating on watches

    Companies dealing with consumer goods use PVD coating in making their products. Not only are they looking for the quality attributes of the TECHNIQUE. They also want PVD’s aesthetic value.

    Jewelries like wristwatch are instances of consumer goods under the influence of PVD coatings. Brands prefer PVD coatings on jewelry for the arbitrary license of heightening their prices in the market.

    The PVD technique is essential in making pieces of jewelry, such as gold wristwatches. Gold wristwatches do not necessarily come from pure gold.

    Companies such as Longines coat metals like Iron and Nickel with a thin layer of gold using PVD COATING. With this technique, you get a gold wristwatch at a lesser price than a pure gold wristwatch.


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    Energy consumption is an essential factor while making automotive. Consequently, many automotive parts are lightweight.

    The lightweight property is due to manufacturers’ use of aluminum and titanium in the manufacturing process.

    Even though these materials are light, they are not hard, and they rub with friction. Therefore, there is a need to coat them to make them hard and have a low friction coefficient.

    PVD coating technique can provide these properties. In addition to its quality value, PVD improves the automotive part in terms of aesthetics.

    Architectural Application

    PVD coating gave architects an edge in accomplishing projects known for quality and elegance. The technique allows them to use different coloring, which raises the aesthetic value of such buildings.

    It also provides the hardness, lightness, and corrosion resistance needed for such projects. PVD coating is used in shopping centers, railway stations, and high-end retail stores.

    Bathroom Accessories

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    Companies producing bath accessories include PVD coatings in their manufacturing process. The technique is used in making basin taps, faucets, bath mixers, zinc, etc.

    Bath accessories are coated using PVD coating for sweat resistance, abrasion resistance, and aseptic capacity. This is in addition to other quality values it possesses.

    PVD coating also provides a wide range of colors for the accessories, making it ideal for bathroom accessories.



    Top companies involved in producing devices used in lighting now use PVD coating.

    However, they use it more for its aesthetic value and durability.

    One significant aesthetic value in lighting is the color it enhances. You can quickly get the right color for your lighting by tweaking time, work-piece, and coating material. With PVD coating, you can also incorporate precious metals or look-alike to a lighting part.

    Also, with PVD coating, lighting devices become more durable. You can use them both indoor and outdoor without getting corrupted by environmental conditions.


    The marine environment is chemically aggressive and rapidly corrosive due to its saline nature. Therefore, it attacks anything coated with standard techniques such as E-coating, Electroplating, and Painting.

    Since the PVD coating technique involves bonding at an atomic level, it is ideal for the marine environment. Not only does it include its aesthetic value in the buildup, but it is also durable and can stand against the saline environment.

    Therefore, PVD coating is employed in making parts of yachts and boats.

    Home Hardware

    PVD Coating Home hardware

    PVD coating is used in making home hardware such as door handle, window sill, etc.

    Home hardware should be made of different materials, colors, and geometries. PVD coating is essential here. It creates different colors needed for its elegance.

    PVD coating also offers the hardware resistance to corrosion, rust, and other environmental anomalies.

    Gaming & Sporting Equipment

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    Gaming and Sporting equipment are used continuously in different conditions. Therefore, PVD coating is vital due to its properties such as durability resistance to corrosion.

    PVD coating is used in making gaming and sporting equipment due to its aesthetic value.

    Examples of gaming and sporting equipment where this technique is applicable are Bats (metallic and plastic), darts, boot studs, poles, javelin, etc.

    Kitchen Appliances

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    PVD coating technique occurs at an atomic level making it suitable for kitchen appliances. Kitchen appliances must be durable, healthy, and elegant.

    While other techniques can produce these effects, PVD coating improves it by adding properties like anti-scratch.

    Companies that deal with kitchen appliances such as cookware and cutleries use the PVD technique.

    Decorative Uses

    PVD coating is majorly used for decorative purposes as opposed to its quality value. It can provide different colors, which ensures choice and elegance. You can get the right color by tweaking time, work-piece, and coating material.

    An excellent example of PVD decorative application is its use in coating stainless steel.

    PVD Coating can change the color of stainless steel to look like materials such as brass and bronze. Its decorative attribute is also seen in smartphone finishes. For example, Apple uses it in making the Space Gray and Gold finishes used in the iPhone series.

    Medical Tools

    PVD coating Medical tools

    PVD coating leads to the production of the pure and clean coated material. As a result of this, it is ideal for coating materials that require acute pureness. Therefore, many surgical materials are coated using the technique.


    Agricultural tools are used for majorly outdoor purposes. Therefore, they are hugely affected by many factors, such as corrosion and rust.

    Some attempted to coat such metals using techniques such as electroplating. However, it has leads to wastage of material.

    Also, the external environment can easily affect it.

    PVD coating is ideal for coating agricultural tools due to its durability and resistance to environmental conditions. Some companies also employ the technique for its aesthetic value. However, that is not common.

    F.A.Q of PVD Coating

    Yes, PVD coating is a technique worth using by people who value coatings of high quality. Unlike other coating techniques, the coated layer is hard to scrape off.

    It's as well durable, rugged, resistant to corrosions, and challenging. This makes it better than other coating techniques such as Painting and Electroplating.

    Yes, you might need a surface finish depending on your preferred end product. However, you must understand that the PVD coating is not like painting and electroplating.

    In the latter, the coating will fill up any imperfection on the material. However, the PVD coating will only form a thin layer of film. Any defect on the material will remain there even though it is coated.

    Therefore, you need to prepare the surface finish you need before the coating process.Suppose you need a PVD polished finish. 

    Use a polished work-piece. If you also need a satin/brushed finish, use a brushed surface.

    PVD coating has a thickness between the range of 0.2 -5 micron. This is the reason for the name "Thin Film Deposition."

    The temperature depends on the PVD coating process and the substrate material you use. Generally, it is between 50-500 Fahrenheit.

    The colors available in PVD coating depends on two things: the target and the reactive gases. The top colors available are Brass, Gold, and Nickel tones.

    PVD coating is generally hard. For example, Zirconium Nitride has a hardness of HRc-80.

    The corrosion protection is excellent. The industrial standard used the Neutral Salt Spray and the Copper-Accelerated Acetic Acid Salt Spray to check corrosion protection.

    The corrosion protection depends on the material used. For example, with Zirconium Nitride, you have about 1200 hours with neutral salt and 150 with CAS.

    PVD coating is to the atomic level. Once you coat a material using the technique, it is hard for the coated layer to wear off.

    The time it takes for PVD coating to last depends on the reaction stage and human action thickness. It has a strong bond and a reduction in friction and reliability.

    Cleaning a PVD coated material depends on the target material. However, you should wash such material with mild soap and water. You should also avoid using products that can remove rust and tarnish. For example, prevent acids and bleach.

    PVD coating is to the atomic level. It is non-removable

    PVD coating being expensive depends on many factors, such as having PVD equipment and coating material. Without PVD equipment, it is costly to coat small parts using the technique. Also, the target materials cost depends on their rarity and value.

    Yes, using the PVD coating on a material can prevent rust.


    PVD coating has a massive relevance amidst several popular coating techniques available today. This coating already has a wide range of applications visible in its use in many sectors.

    In this post, I already demystified the PVD coating techniques, benefits and uses.

    Do you have any other confusion bothering you about what PVD coating is? Kindly ask in the comment section below.

    If no, kindly tap on the Share button to help others you know would benefit from it.


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