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topic 7846

PVD coatings: color control

A discussion started in 2001 but continuing through 2020


Ed. note:
abstract questions

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


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.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio - scwineryreview.com
PVD Consultant & Wine Lover - San Diego, California

Readers-- There is so much to be said about gold PVD coatings and black coatings that they need their own pages:
- for Q&A's about Gold colored PVD coatings please see thread 13115, and
- for black PVD coatings please see thread 35541.
This thread will be about all other colors of PVD coatings except gold and black. For other subjects please search the site.


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
- Hong Kong


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 a homogeneous colour.

Best regards,

Mark Jarratt
PVD - Worcester, UK

PVD Coating - Red color - Deposition Process Information


Q. I am a student studying engineering in Switzerland in EIAJ( www.eiaj.ch) in the surface treatment department and now I am seeking for colors deposition. I would like to get some technical infos about PVD plating a RED color. The time of deposition and the gasses used and the target material and all other technical information about the deposition process. Thanks in advance for the help.

RODOLPH A [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
EIAJ - University of Applied Sciences - LE LOCLE, NEUCHATEL , SWITZERLAND


Q. Bonjour, J'ai lu votre post et suis interessé moi aussi par les differentes couleurs possible en PVD. Peut on avoir du rouge en PVD ? Nous utilisons le PVD pour du noir, bleu et doré...

David A [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- France


thumbs up sign Based on my superior language skills, I'll guess that was French for "me too" :-)

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

How to get blue PVD titanium coating


Q. Hello,
Please tell me how can I get blue colors while coating titanium on different scissors?

Please tell in PVD?

Shoaib [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Quench Age - Sialkot, Pakistan


A. Hello Shoaib,

Variation in the nitrogen gas level gives change in color of Ti coating. TiN is generally gold in color, if you go up to 500 sccm of nitrogen with lowest bias you get a reddish golden color. Including chrome in Ti material, i.e., TiCr with only Nitrogen gas in coating gives Blue color.

Kundan javheri
Research - Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA

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

How to get PVD copper color other than TiCN

October 12, 2012

Q. I am an engineer working in a tools coating company. I have been working in PVD coating for about 3 years and still learning a lot about this technology. The PVD technologies I have experience on are sputtering, cathodic arc and little bit of evaporation.

Currently, I am looking for an alternative PVD copper color coating other than TiCN. In general, TiCN cannot withstand with high heat. However, the application for this coating has to be under high heat environment. From my understanding, ZrCN also can give you a copper color with high heat resistance. However, I am still not sure about the result. Does anyone have any suggestions. Thank you in advance for all of your responds and comments.

Tassanie Tha-see
- Samutprakarn, Thailand

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 no general recipe, just recipes that work for a specific PVD system design.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio - scwineryreview.com
PVD Consultant & Wine Lover - San Diego, California

July 20, 2017

Q. I'm from VietNam. We are very new in PVD industry. My customer ordered polished stainless steel PVD champagne rose color (not gold base); it looks like "coffee color". What kind of target, gas, could we do to get this color?

T&D International. - Ho Chi Minh, Viet Nam

July 28, 2017

A. Specifying a coating only by colour is risky not least because colour perception is rather subjective. Coffee (is it with or without milk ?!) comes in different tastes and colours. Apart from colour the user would be having other expectations from the coating. Some form of TiCN or TiAlN may serve the purpose. It would be best to have a joint discussion with the machine supplier and your client.

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

August 17, 2017

Ed. note:
abstract questions

Q. I am having trouble with a couple of my PVD finishers who say we must lacquer or clear coat "to prevent oxidization".

Done properly, would a PVD finish done on SS require a lacquer or a clear coat?

Allen Jubin
- Morganton, North Carolina, USA

August 2017

thumbs up sign Hi Allen. Are we talking architectural building panels, or plumbing faucets, or wristwatch dials? My belief is that gold colored PVD coatings are generally a final finish, but unfortunately, I think people would need to know a lot more about what you are doing before they would say whether your finishing shops are doing something wrong and are trying to talk you into putting a bandaid on it.


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

September 7, 2017

A. Allen,

PVD is a somewhat generic term, and includes deposition of hard coatings as well as metals. If your PVD finish is a hard metal nitride, oxide, or carbide, or some combination thereof, it should not require a top coat, assuming that you are using a 300 series stainless steel. If it is just a metal coating -- say nickel -- it probably needs a top coat.


jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio - scwineryreview.com
PVD Consultant & Wine Lover - San Diego, California

Copper colour PVD

July 25, 2018

Q. My situation: I have done several tries to get copper colour in PVD, though I succeeded in getting that colour through copper targets, but it gets tarnished after some time is there any other way I could achieve copper colour or a colour near to that of copper?

Gagandeep Singh
- Delhi,India

July 30, 2018

A. I don't know of anyone who has had success producing a copper finish by PVD other than depositing copper. Many have tried.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio - scwineryreview.com
PVD Consultant & Wine Lover - San Diego, California

Ed. note:
abstract questions

January 1, 2019

Q. How to Make Pink Color in a Physical Vapor Deposition?

Rakesh Kaushik
Student - Bhiwani, haryana, INDIA

January 8, 2019

Ed. note:
abstract questions

Q. I want to know the process to get golden color plastic beads by using PVD and other colors like blue, green, pink, red please help!

Tej singh rathod
Karni mata plastic - India,maharashtra

January 2019

A. Hi Tej. The easy way is to just vacuum metallize with aluminum and then tint your top coat instead of leaving it clear. Cracker Jack toys and children's toy finger rings sold for 5¢ in gumball machines have been made this way for many decades. Good luck.


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

PVD deposit is perfect bronze red, but just gold in deep holes

February 27, 2019

Q. Hi,

Anyone know how to solve PVD deposition with Ti targets and bronze red colour TiCN. Problem I have is that colour is not getting deep enough . In deep holes about 4 cm and 8 in diameter I get just gold colour, while outside it's perfect bronze red.
Thanks for answer.

Alan Kos
- Italy

March 5, 2019

A. Hi Alan,
You can try to increase your deposition time; also you can try to modify your fixture for a better deposition rate.

Saul Sanchez
R&D Helvex - CDMX, Mexico

September 13, 2019

Q. Is it possible to Know Standard Color Codes For Ion Plating (PVD process) for Watch Cases? Especially Black, Gun-Metal & Rose Gold and their Variants?

Narasimha Narasimha
Conzumex - India, Karnataka & Bengaluru

September 2019

affil. link
"Gold Plating Technology"
by Reid & Goldie
from Abe Books

A. Hi Narasimha. According to Reid & Goldie there are color codes for gold plating in the watchcase industry, namely NIHS 03 SO, DIN 8-322, and CETEHOR 07 70 (that book was published in 1974, so ISO standards may supersede these). Whether these color codes also apply to PVD processes, or whether there are different color standards for PVD, sorry, I don't know.


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

January 20, 2020

Q. Why does the color of the samples on top of the vacuum chamber sometimes vary with the bottom of the vacuum chamber after PVD process?

Mehran Ghadirzadeh
- Tehran, Iran

January 30, 2020

A. Hi Mehran,

The top and bottom part of the chamber may not be fully inside the plasma plume, so you will get less coating there.

Sometimes for intrinsic colours (TiN gold) placement within the chamber does not matter so much, but for interference colours (TiO2 blue) the coating thickness is very closely tied to the coating colour (in which case you should use the middle of the chamber only for consistent colours).

Ben OShea
- Katikati, New Zealand

February 22, 2020

Ed. note:
abstract questions

Q. Who does blue PVD processes for pistol slides? I know Kimber sells their pistols with a blue PVD slide. But, who actually does this process?

Bruce Ramos
End User - Stockton, California USA

February 2020

A. Hi Bruce. Can you please tell us what you are actually trying to do? ... maybe find someone to re-coat one single slide for you? I think you're unlikely to find anyone to do one piece because of the setup time involved, the possibility of contaminating their chamber, etc. -- even if they don't have an exclusive with Kimber, and they may well. Most companies like Kimber will not publicize their sourcing arrangements, or even whether they do a process in house or outsource it.
Please post the details of your situation. Thanks.


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

TiAl targets for purple PVD coating

February 27, 2020

Q. Hello, I've been in a loop about the TiAl targets (Ti70Al30); I was told that these targets would get me the reddish and purple color in PVD machine by using nitrogen gas,
I've tried a lot now, all I can get is light copper or copper-ish gold color.
I tried using TiAlCN as well, it got black.
I want to achieve the purple color could you please suggest a better idea?
Thank you.

mohammed omear
- saudi arabia, riyadh

June 24, 2020

Q. Hi, we use TiC to apply dark gray on stainless steel sheets. sometimes color changes to blue after some days. What should we do?

majid mahmoudi
- tehran, iran

June 28, 2020

Q. Hi dear professors on PVD coatings.
Does anybody get white color like as teeth color by PVD process?

Your kind replies would be very appreciated.

Siamak Yassaie
- Tehran/IRAN

August 21, 2020

Q. Hello all,

Issue: After applying an acrylic clear powder coat over PVD chrome wheels, then baking at the correct temperature for the correct amount of time, the wheels come out much darker than before.

Conditions: I am using Argon gas in the PVD machine, coating the wheels firstly with a Titanium layer, then secondly a Chrome layer. They come out looking amazing. But after clear coat baking I have the darkening issue.

I have tried without the Titanium first layer and the wheels look good until clear coating which they turn out milky and cloudy.

I believe it might be the Titanium causing the issue (hopefully some knows for sure or not) as I have read that a nickel/chrome first layer can be used. I would like to know if anyone has had this issue and what the fix for this is?

Any ideas or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Stephen Breen
- Sydney Australia

Ed. note-- Readers! This is NOT a consulting service, it's a place of camaraderie and mutual help. Please try your best to answer one of the open questions before posting your own. Thanks!

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