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PVD coatings: color control


A discussion started in 2001 and continuing through 2017 . . .

(2001)

Q. I would like to know a PVD process for depositing coatings in different colors (red, blue...). Which is the best PVD process to make it? Which materials could provide the different colors?

Charo Fernandez
- Valladolid, Spain


(2001)

A. Gold and brass colors are usually formed from zirconium nitride with small admixture of carbon. Chromium nitride yields silver. I don't know of any commercial work in red and blue, but would assume one can get blue by depositing titanium oxide. Erbium oxide yields a pinkish gray. The most common deposition process is by cathodic arc. Coatings are very thin -- around 200 nm.

treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
- Vista, California


(2001)

A. I've some PVD plated steel samples that are in blue, black, grey and bronze colours, but I'm not sure the composition of the layer. Some French and Taiwanese platers can achieve those colours.

I've also read on the web that purplish red can be achieved by plating TiAlCN. You can surf the web for details. The plating is applied on tooling for wear resistance and high temp properties.

WY Wong
- HK


(2004)

A. Silicon nitride is bright blue. Also oxides can be deposited (or metals such as niobium can be anodized) that give a red or blue appearance. You just have to ensure the oxide thickness is uniform to give an homogeneous colour.

Best regards,

Mark Jarratt
PVD - Worcester,UK


June 3, 2008

A. We can get violet to red colors in TiCN by varying the Methane to NItrogen gas ratio. Ratios are preferable like Methane:Nitrogen = 1:5 Red-ish yellow, like 1:4, 1:3, 1: 2, 1:1(gray color).

YV Sambasiva Rao
- Chennai, India



PVD in Tungsten Rings - How to get the right gold color

November 29, 2015

Q. Hi dears. I've been importing tungsten rings from China for a year. I know that in China they make a kind of PVD; the color is good but the plating is a kind of "flash", and fades within 1 year. I'm trying to make the PVD with many companies here in Brazil, but they are not finding a good color for jewelry (gold color). Although they are international companies, they specialize in tools, car parts, etc., so, its been very difficult to get the exact color. How can I get this color? Is there someone who has a kind of % of TiN or other elements to get this color? Someone can help me? Thank you so much.

ANDRE L [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- SAO PAULO, BRAZIL


November 30, 2015

A. Andre,
As you might have already figured out, there are companies that specialize in functional PVD coatings and those that specialize in decorative PVD coatings. Decorative PVD coatings are very commonly deposited on faucets and door hardware. As gold PVD is pretty common in the faucet business, replacing gold plating, look for a company in Brazil that makes high end faucets. They either do the PVD coating themselves, or can lead you to their PVD coating supplier.

treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
- Vista, California



December 28, 2016

Q. This was also my question and I could not find any answer. I have read on the web that coated layer color depends on some factors such as target material, substrate material, layer thickness and .... I am interested in knowing about controlling these factors to make different colors. Is there any resource which provides details on how these factors can be controlled to make different colors?

Sara Qazvini
- Tehran, Iran


January 4, 2017

A. PVD color depends primarily on the target material and the reactive gas mix. For example, you get yellow gold with a titanium target and nitrogen gas. Adding methane or acetylene darkens the finish, going to reddish gold to gray to black. There is not general recipe, just recipes that work for a specific PVD system design.

treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
- Vista, California

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