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topic 13115

PVD gold color matching

A discussion started in 2002 but continuing through 2019


Q. I am going through the exercise of looking at a PVD coating to replace our gold plated plastic components. I have had samples coated but the colour does not match our existing gold colour which is a 24K (orange gold). The PVD coating is a lot browner and I am told by the supplier that this is the best colour match that can be expected. I need to know if it is possible to change the colour of gold PVD coatings by changing the process parameters or whether you are limited to a set range of colors.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated

Tim Strickland
- Auckland, New Zealand


A. Your supplier is not correct. It is possible to vary deposition parameters to obtain a very wide range of gold shades.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
PVD Consultant - San Diego, California


A. I have never seen anyone exactly match 24K gold. The luster L* of the nitrides is not right so they don't have the "softness" of 24K gold. Typical values are for TiN, color is golden yellow (L* = 77-80, a* = 2-5 and b* = 33-37) for 24k gold color is gold (L* = 88-91, a*=(-3.7)-1, and b* = 27-34).

Hope this helps.

Donald M. Mattox
Society of Vacuum Coaters
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Ed. note:
            Mr. Mattox is
            the author of -->


A. If the colour is brown, you may try different Vacuum or Bias volts. Sometime I found Ti target from different souces could make different TiN coulour. I have never try on plastic substrates, but have done a lot on metal substrates. There are too many different parameteres you could try, like Vacuum, Bias, time etc.

Danpei Ji
- Melbourne, australia

24 karat gold color PVD TiN?

September 23, 2019

Q. Hello,

We've been using Ti cathode arc targets with N2 gas to produce decorative gold TiN coatings. However, they always come out a sort of pale 16-18 karat gold colour. We would really like to get a richer 22-24 karat gold colour. We know it's possible because our competitors have managed it.

The substrate is a 90% tungsten alloy. Coating time is around 4-5 minutes at roughly 200 degrees C.


Ben O'Shea
- Katikati, New Zealand

October 26, 2019

A. I think you are on the right track, keep trials with small variations in parameters; am sure you get the desired 24 karat colour ... theres no perfect recipe for it.

Binu Keshavan
Mfgr. - Gujarat, India

October 28, 2019

A. Try going to ZrN instead of TiN. With a little methane or acetylene in the gas mix, you can get a good 24 kt gold look. Very common in the faucet/door hardware decorative coating business.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
PVD Consultant - San Diego, California

December 10, 2019

Q. Hello! What differences they have between coating yellow and 24K gold. My Bias Voltage is: 100V and temperature roughly 200 °C. Arc targets are 120V. My color is not as good as real 24K Gold.

Gokhan Sahin
Mechatronics Engineer - Istanbul,Turkey is possible thanks to our supporting advertisers, including this one:


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