TECH TALK: PVD Coating

You’ve seen us mention “PVD coating” on our exhaust pages, specifically used on our exhaust tips – let’s dive into what exactly this coating is and why we use it.

THE PURPOSE

🚫 Powder coating would not suffice for our use as it is not able to withstand the heat of an exhaust system nor does it adhere well to hard edges where it can crack. 🚫 Ceramic coating will offer heat protection but is much thicker and does not look uniform in appearance, which is off-putting to some. 🚫 Chrome style coatings often don’t look like true chrome and can sometimes not withstand high heat.

We use PVD coating due to the high quality of the finish not only in terms of appearance but also versatility. 

Physical vapor deposition is the process of vaporizing metal in a high vacuum environment and depositing it on electrically conductive materials yielding an extremely thin, microns thick finish with a very durable bond. PVD coatings vary in their function and properties as well, from coefficient of friction to hardness. There are a range of both decorative and performance enhancing uses for PVD far beyond our own:

  • Cutting tools benefit from abrasion resistance and achieve maximum efficiency through a reduced coefficient of friction.
  • Watches and jewelry use PVD as a decorative coating – black, gold, rose gold, and other attractive metallic finishes make them stand out while being resistant to scratching and every day wear and tear.
  • Titanium nitride (TiN) PVD coating is clinically being used on orthopedic implants for hip, knee, shoulder and ankle replacements.
  • Diesel fuel injection components are built to extremely high tolerances to withstand high fuel pressure, and decreasing wear through PVD coating extends the components life. Gears, bearings, and transmission components see a great benefit through wear reduction as well.
  • Gun slides benefit from a lower friction coefficient for less resistance and heat buildup with performance coatings or simply as a cosmetic upgrade with decorative coatings.
  • You’ve most likely seen it used on one of your cars as most black OE tips are chrome tips finished with a black PVD coating!

As they are so thin – microns thick – PVD coatings can take on the properties of the surface underneath. Our Signature Satin finish will result in a black satin finish while the polished logo section will end up black chrome in appearance. Our polished chrome tips take on a black chrome like finish.

THE PROCESS

Example of a PVD machine showcasing the carousel and components prior to coating

To sum up the process in layman’s terms the coating material is brought to a vapor phase and then solidifies back to a condensed phase as a coating. This process occurs in a vacuum chamber (typically 10-2 to 10-4 mbar) with a carousel / fixture designed to hold several components. The components are bombarded with positively charged ions to promote adhesion. Additionally, gases such as nitrogen, acetylene or oxygen may be introduced into the vacuum chamber during the process to introduce different desired traits.

The result is a very strong bond between the coating and surface which would not normally be possible in such a thin film. All of the benefits outlined above are also bestowed onto the component, unlike painting or powder coating. 

With PVD coatings we have the opportunity to create uniquely customized tips with your choice of cut, color, and logo to make your car unique! We can customize tips for most applications – contact us should you ever want to craft your own tips! Thank you for reading!

Questions? Comments? Let us know!

– Mike Spock / Marketing Manager