PVD coating continues to gain popularity as a eco-friendly, durable form of metal plating for components in a variety of industries. From an emphasis on function in fields like aerospace and aviation to decorative appeal in the automotive and gaming industries, PVD coating is beneficial for my applications, for both beauty and durability. This month, we take a look back at the history of PVD coating.
History of PVD Coating
Physical vapor deposition, or PVD, process have been closely linked with the discovery of electricity, the power of magnetism and the understanding of gaseous chemical reactions. While the first vacuum pump was invented in 1640 by Otto van Guericke, the first pump to be able to form a plasma discharge in a vacuum tube was by English scientist Michael Faraday in 1838. Faraday used brass electrodes and a vacuum in order to prove all electricity is the same kind, thus discovering the first two laws of electrochemistry. Today, these principles of electrochemistry are used in the PVD coating process for metal and plastic objects.
The next discovering on the way to modern PVD coating processes came in 1852 when Robert Grove studied what would become known as “sputtering”. He used the tip of a wire as the coating source and sputtered a deposit onto a highly polished silver surface. In 1858, Yale University professor A.W. Wright wrote a paper on an “electrical deposition apparatus” that was used to make mirrors. This process resembled arc evaporation more so than sputtering.
Thomas Edison, who we all have to thank for the invention of the electric light bulb, was the first to make commercial use of sputtering. His invention was challenged by the US Patent Office, citing Wright’s work against Edison’s application for a vacuum coating machine to deposit coatings. Edison’s invention was a continuous arc, opposed to the pulsed arc of Wright.
Over the course of the next century, many advancements were made in the sputtering processes, which eventually led to the modern PVD coating process. The term physical vapor deposition seems to have originated by authors CF Powell, JH Oxley and JM Blocher Jr. in their 1966 book, Vapor Deposition; however, the processes were invented and fine tuned over an extensive period of time leading up to that point.
Bend Plating offers PVD coating processes for components in a variety of industries and applications. Contact for more information about how PVD coating can be a beneficial process for your next project.