The use of PVD Technology in Metal Finishing
There are a variety of different techniques for making metal finishing surfaces, some more effective than others and each serving a different purpose...
What are metal finishing used for?
Metal finishing can be made for a variety of reasons, mainly related to the need to impart specific properties to the substrate.
The main purposes are
Functional: to provide specific properties or functionality to the surface of a material. These coatings are often used in applications where functionality is a priority, such as corrosion protection, wear resistance, electrical conductivity, or other special properties.
Decorative: to improve the aesthetic appearance of a surface while also providing an initial barrier against corrosion or wear. These coatings are often used in applications where aesthetic appearance is the primary driver.
What techniques are used to make metal finishings?
There are a variety of different techniques for making metal finishing surfaces, some more effective than others and each serving a different purpose. These technologies include:
- Galvanic Plating: Electroplating involves applying a thin layer of fine quality metal to the surface of a baseplate metal. This can improve appearance, corrosion resistance and conductive properties. Examples include gold plating (application of gold), chromium plating (application of chromium) and zinc plating (application of zinc).
- Anodizing: This process is often used for aluminum. Anodizing creates a protective oxide layer on aluminum, improving corrosion resistance and appearance. It can be colored for decorative purposes.
- Sandblasting: Sandblasting involves the use of abrasive particles (usually sand) to remove impurities and create a matte or rough surface. This finish can be used for decorative purposes or to prepare the surface for further treatment.
- Polishing: Polishing involves sanding and cleaning the surface to make it smooth and shiny. It can be used to achieve reflections and smooth, reflective surfaces.
- Painting: Applying protective paints or coatings can improve the appearance and corrosion resistance of metal. Paints can vary in color, finish, and durability.
- Multilayer coatings: In many cases, multilayer coatings are applied to combine different properties, such as wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and aesthetic appearance.
- Vacuum deposition: techniques involving the deposition of materials in vacuum environments, such as PVD Technologies.
Metal finishing with PVD technology
The PVD process is a type of vacuum deposition that has had a revolutionary impact on metal surface finishing. This technology achieves outstanding results in terms of aesthetics, durability and functionality. Generally, the PVD process differs into two broad categories: the first involves the evaporation of metal materials in a vacuum environment, followed by the deposition of the resulting vapors onto the surface of the substrate to be treated, while the second is done by the extraction of atoms of the metal coating the target through collisions with accelerated gas ions toward the target itself and subsequent deposition of the metal atoms onto the substrate; this second mode is also called sputtering. The most commonly used materials can include titanium, chromium, zirconium, aluminum and many others.
Compared with traditional metal surface finishing processes, PVD deposition also avoids the release of gases, water, and other potentially polluting residues into the environment.
In addition, this process:
- Offers unparalleled control in the management of metal finishing thicknesses
- Allows thin layers of metallic materials to be applied to the surface of an object, creating a wide range of finishes, from decorative to highly protective/functional
- Enables the corrosion and wear resistance of metal surfaces to be greatly improved, helping to extend the useful life of objects and keep them in optimal condition over time.
The application areas of PVD tecnhnologies in metal finishing
Metal surface finishes are used when a wear- and abrasion-resistant coating is needed, and in all cases where extended durability, an object-specific aesthetic appearance, or a mix of both properties is required. Therefore, they find application in a wide range of areas, some completely unexplored before.
These include, for example:
The automotive industry, where they are commonly used to improve the aesthetics and durability of accessories such as door handles, mirrors, and interior components;
Faucets industry, for the colors and designs achievable through PVD processes;
Watchmaking and jewelry, to provide greater scratch resistance and an elegant, eye-catching appearance;
The furniture industry, for decorative finishes on furniture, handles, and furnishings that are often exposed to daily wear and tear;
The medical industry, for coating surgical instruments and medical devices.
If you are interested in learning more about PVD implants or would like to compose your own custom implant