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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 are there between coating yellow and 24K gold? My Bias Voltage is: 100V and temperature is roughly 200 °C. Arc targets are 120V. My color is not as good as real 24K Gold.

Gokhan Sahin
Mechatronics Engineer - Istanbul,Turkey

ZrN decorative PVD coating

April 19, 2020 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hi
Does anyone know how to turn the pale gold color of the ZrN PVD coating into 24 karat gold color?
By changing which coating parameters, we can achieve 24-karat gold color.
If anyone has experience, thank you for your help

Behdad ba
- Esfahan-Iran

April 2020

A. Hi cousin Araz. You've posted under 3 different names and 2 different cities in the last few months which is making it difficult for readers to know which postings are related and thereby get a full feeling for your situation. Are you having difficulty expressing a non-english name in English, and it's to okay for me change the name on all of your postings to first name Araz and last name as expressed by your e-mail address? :-)

As you see, we've added your inquiry to a previous thread on the same subject, and the topic is also addressed in threads 35675 and 7846 if you'd like further input while awaiting replies. Thanks!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

April 28, 2020

thumbs up sign Crow is black, koel is black, what is the difference ?
Come spring, crow is crow, koel is koel.

So goes a short verse ("subhashita") in Samskrit. It is same with gold and TiN.

H.R. Prabhakara
Bangalore Plasmatek - Bangalore, Karnataka, India

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