The scientific ability to enhance the use of some metals by coating them with an outer layer of a different metal has been around since the late 1800s and will always be immensely important. No matter the industry or sector, coating or plating allows us to produce durable products by essentially utilising the strong points of multiple metals. Whether it’s galvanising a steel handrail to produce a rust-resistant zinc coating, or painting an iron candle holder with gold paint we can rely on one metal as the base and then adorn it with another for its special characteristic (eg. conductivity, corrosion resistance or aesthetic strength). Areas like construction and goods manufacturing in particular have benefited massively from being able to plate and coat metallic products. We as a society have also enjoyed the residual rewards too.
The Balance Between Benefits & Environmental Wellbeing
As is with many leaps forward in the scientific and technological sphere, there can often be undesirable byproducts in terms of environmental impacts, especially when it comes to chemical processes like plating techniques as they use significant amounts of energy and involve harmful chemical substances all of which have to be disposed of once the process is complete. In addition, when we look at liquid based techniques of coating such as painting and powder coating, they rely on non-recyclable polymers, binders and volatile none-organic compounds that can be environmentally damaging to manufacture.
What Is PVD?
Physical Vapour Deposition is a revolutionary coating technique that does not rely on chemical reactions to bond. Instead, high temperatures and pressure vacuums are used to evaporate metal into plasma form and then condense it onto a substrate. It is used in a variety of different applications and unlike other coating techniques, it operates on the atomic level which allows manufacturers to have an extremely detailed control over the thickness of the coating, the way it is applied and more importantly the coating itself. For instance, a manufacturer can create a very scratch-proof surface coating by putting down multiple layer coatings on top of each other thus creating a solid and stable structure. With the PVD process you can practically vapourise any number of metals and atomically fuse them with a huge degree of control.
Environmental Strengths Of Using PVD
Making Plastic Go Further
Unlike a lot of painting and electroplating processes which rely on chemical reactions in order to produce coatings, PVD does not - it merely evaporates a coating material and reforms it as a film over whatever substrate is chosen. This means that in terms of what counts as a “suitable” substrate, practically any material is fair game! The benefits of this can be harnessed to prolong the life of plastic which can be potentially recycled, re-moulded and then PVD coated. In this sense, PVD allows us to get more out of plastics in circulation by coating them with metals that might have properties conducive to a specific task eg. conductive, lightweight or lustrous.
No Chemical Byproducts & Very Little Footprint
As mentioned previously, lots of traditional plating and coating techniques use a significant amount of abrasive chemicals, caustics and compounds that are environmentally damaging both in manufacture and use. Even though strict guidelines exist with regard to the dumping of byproducts, these still have a negative effect on the environment. For instance, the steel anodisation process produces aluminium hydroxide and spent sulphuric acid - both incredibly toxic and harmful pollutants that often end up in landfills. This process also produces sulphuric fumes which will condense into clouds before returning to the earth in the form of acid rain, neutralising soil nutrients, killing aquatic life and damaging buildings and cars. With PVD there are very few harmful chemicals involved. In fact the only gas used in the PVD process is argon which is completely inert and used because it can’t bond thus ensuring the coating material’s purity throughout the “smattering” process.
Human Well Being
The relatively small amount of harmful pollutants produced in the PVD process is also good news for humans including the absence of toxic gases and waste water. Certainly the process itself is a lot less risky for the operatives themselves and even though methods like anodisation and galvanisation are always carried out with full safety equipment, hazardous processes are always come with their short and long term risks.
Where Is It Used?
With the amazing benefits of PVD very apparent, manufacturers all over the world have been quick to adopt the technique as a way of producing high-performance components for a number of key products. Microchips for instance are found in just about every technological device imaginable and rely on large numbers of mini-transistors and circuits. As varying electrical charge underpins how the chip functions, it is essential that the right conductive and hard wearing metals are used and applied in the precise amounts. Among other products that rely heavily on PVD, we also have optics, watches and tools to name a few. Using
PVD For Decorative Use
As a forward thinking appliance manufacturer, Caple has always been driven to innovate whether on the design, engineering or even technological front. We have adopted the use of PVD as a way of manufacturing a dazzling range of taps and sinks that radiate a beauty only found in real metal. Thanks to our hi-tech PVD process we can coat our sleek tap designs in the finest of metallic films, giving them a texture and feel that will add a new dimension of elegance to your kitchen.
At Caple we are proud of the high standards set by our products and the stylistic impact they have on our customers’ homes. We also share a parallel commitment towards environmental responsibility in our footprint and processes. As such, we are enthusiastic advocates of the PVD process. For more information on our fantastic range of PVD coated taps and sinks, visit our website.