Demand is increasing for rich, classic black coatings for high-end products, particularly in consumer electronics such as computers and televisions; premium household products including countertop appliances, bath and kitchen fixtures; automotive interior and exterior accents and accessories; and in large coating services and electroplating operations.

Vapor Technologies, Inc., an industry pioneer in physical vapor deposition (PVD) thin-film coating systems for wide-ranging industrial and consumer product applications, has developed the first true black advanced low-temperature arc vapor deposition (LTAVD) coating

Vapor Tech’s coating capabilities cover the spectrum of metallic colors, but until now, it has been extremely difficult for anyone to produce a true, neutral black using PVD techniques. Vapor Tech’s process results in stable, repeatable and customizable colorfast coatings that resist fading and shifting; and the low-temperature LTAVD process allows the new black to adhere to a variety of materials, including electroplated plastics, without damaging the part.

The process is all part of the company’s LTAVD system. Vapor Tech offers two units – the VT-1500 and the VT-3000. The VT-1500 shares its configuration and coating capabilities with the larger VT-3000, but with a smaller chamber. Both units’ center-mounted arc source ensures high throughput and consistent quality. LTAVD extends the range of applications to include plastics and other low-temperature materials.

Physical vapor deposition coatings are created inside the vacuum chamber of these systems. A high-current electric arc is guided up and down a Zirconium rod mounted in the center of the chamber. Vaporized by the arc, high-energy Zirconium ions fill the chamber. These ions are attracted to, and form a strong bond with, the surface of parts placed in the chamber.  The coating is so thin that it actually can take on the attributes of the substrate. In addition, the thin coating is extremely durable and scratch resistant. The new black color is created by  introducing gases into the chamber during the process, causing them to react with the vapor and form the desired compounds.

Using the L*a*b* color lightness and hue standard, the Vapor Tech black achieves the most accurate quantitative rating in measuring “true” black, and has received corresponding confirmation in more subjective customer feedback testing. The coating’s high-density, excellent adherence characteristics and its ability to withstand dramatic temperature fluctuations virtually eliminate delamination, cracking and peeling. The coating is so thin that it preserves dimensions, tolerances and underlying detail to enable a wide variety of textures.

 “American product companies and manufacturers face intense, relentless global competition that’s growing every day,” said Vapor Tech President David Humenik. “By creating the most beautiful, lustrous and uniform true black PVD coating, Vapor Tech is proud to enable industrial designers with a ‘look and feel’ advantage in appearance, quality and durability to help differentiate and add value to countless consumer electronics, industrial and household products.” n

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