In-House PVD Coating vs. Outsourcing: Choosing the Right Solution for You

If you want your products to benefit from superior coatings, you can outsource PVD (physical vapor deposition) coating to a service provider or invest in PVD coating in-house. Third-party coating service providers own coating equipment and will coat your parts and products along with those of their other customers. You must package, send, wait for, and receive products before repackaging for sale. In-house coating equipment is integrated into your manufacturing and QC process and requires purchasing a piece of capital equipment. This investment can be cost-effective, depending on your coating needs. Here’s how to make the right decisions.

Regardless of the type of thin-film coating, the process makes parts and products more functional, durable, and beautiful.  

Before we get into the details, a brief introduction to PVD coatings. Thin-film deposition is often referred to as “PVD coating,” but in fact, PVD is only one of several processes that are used, which also include CVD (chemical vapor deposition) and DLC (diamond-like carbon) coatings. Thin-film coating systems deposit metal coatings to a variety of metal or plastic parts and products. Thin-film coatings are bonded to the substrate at the atomic level.

  • These coatings are so thin they have no impact on dimensional tolerance and do not mask desired textures in the substrate.
  • They are fade-resistant, consistent, and outperform other coating technologies.

Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) is another process of applying thin-film coatings. DLC is an extremely durable Diamond-Like Carbon coating type that is created via PE-CVD (plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition) process.

Consider your company’s needs

Many coating service providers offer PVD and CVD coating services for customers manufacturing automotive parts, luxury items, medical devices, building products, sporting goods, firearms, and other parts and products. Service provider users will manufacture up to the coating stage, then package their items and send them to a provider. The provider coats the items, repackages them, and returns them to the manufacturer. The parts are unpackaged and returned to the manufacturing line, then repackaged for shipment. Manufacturers who coat a quantity of parts on a regular basis often purchase PVD, CVD, and DLC coating equipment to bring in-house. Depending on company size, coating quantities, and coating types desired, these manufacturers must choose the right machine to fill their exact needs and provide the coating results required. Some coating equipment companies offer a standard color and coating composition chart. at Vapor Technologies (VaporTech®), we also create custom coatings to meet our customers’ product specifications or match legacy finishes.

Choosing the right system: How to make an informed decision

Before you choose a system:

  • Find out what types of coatings your system can produce: If you introduce a new product or color, will it be difficult to use the same machine? Can you use it for PVD as well as DLC coatings?
  • Determine whether your desired system comes with your choice of standard coatings or with the R&D expertise to create custom coatings.
  • Ensure the system is right-sized to meet your needs, don’t invest in more (or less!) than you need.
  • Ensure the system footprint is small enough to easily integrate into your facility.
  • How easy is the system to purchase, install, operate, and maintain?
  • Does the company have the resources to support you from coating development to service throughout the life of your system?

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Whether you are looking at systems or looking for a good service provider (we have good ones we recommend!), please contact us by email or call us at 303-652-8500.

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