What is PVD or IP plating?

Category: Articles | Date: January 18, 2015

Wondering what the terms PVD or IP plated mean? Read on to find out what it is all about...

Ion plating is a Physical vapor deposition (PVD) process and is a version of “vacuum deposition”. It is a modern plating process that is commonly used for both industrial and decorative purposes. For our produsts, the end result is a high quality and very durable finish that is available in a wide rage of colours.

Pysical Vapor Deposition (PVD) is a method for producing metal-based hard coatings by means of generation of partially ionized metal vapor, its reaction with certain gases and by forming a thin film with a specified composition on the substrate. Most commonly used methods are sputtering and cathodic arc.

In sputtering, the vapor is formed by a metal target being bombarded with energetic gas ions. Cathodic arc method uses repetitive vacuum arc discharges to strike the metal target and to evaporate the material. All PVD processes are carried out under high vacuum conditions. The typical process temperature for PVD coatings is between 250°C and 450°C. In some cases, PVD coatings can be deposited at temperatures below 70°C or up to 600°C, depending on substrate materials and expected behavior in the application.

The coatings can be deposited as mono-, multi- and graded layers. The latest generation films are nano-structured and superlattice variations of multi-layered coatings, which provide enhanced properties. The coating structure can be tuned to producing the desired properties in terms of hardness, adhesion, friction etc.

The final coating choice is determined by the demands of the application. The coating thickness ranges from 2 to 5 µm, but can be as thin as a few hundred nanometers or as thick as 15 or more µm. Substrate materials include steels, non-ferrous metals, tungsten carbides as well as pre-plated plastics. The suitability of the substrate material for PVD coating is limited only by its stability at the deposition temperature and electrical conductivity.

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