“True Black” PVD Coating Has Arrived

After 10 years, Vapor Technologies says it has hit the mark with the world’s first true-black advanced “low-temperature arc vapor deposition” (LTAVD) coating.


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Vapor Technologies, a Longmont, Colo., company that specializes in physical vapor deposition thin-film coating systems for industrial and consumer product applications, say it has developed the world’s first true-black advanced “low-temperature arc vapor deposition” (LTAVD) coating.

Vapor Tech President David Humenik says it has taken more than 10 years of research and testing to bring the optical absorption process to market.

“It’s the darkest, most durable and pure black cosmetic finish,” Humenik says. He adds that his company’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 says its LTAVD process results in stable, repeatable and customizable colorfast coatings that will not fade or shift, and it enables the new black to adhere to a variety of materials, including electroplated plastics.

Accurate Quantitative Rating
Using the L*a*b* color lightness and hue standard, Humenik says the Vapor Tech black achieves the most accurate quantitative rating in measuring ”true” black, and the company has received corresponding confirmation in more subjective customer feedback testing.

Bryce Anton, manager of process engineering at Vapor Tech, says his company has been able to achieve coatings with an exceptionally low L* value of 32, and a* = 0 and b* = 0 by enhancing the capability of its industry-standard LTAVD coating system.

“Since there are no naturally occurring black ceramic or metallic materials, the way in which black coatings are typically achieved is by mixing softer, non-ceramic black particles like graphite into a matrix of a harder material,” Anton says. “The size and distribution of these particles will help the film absorb light. These processes can be difficult to control, often result in softer overall coatings and cannot easily be adjusted. Many of these other black coatings tend to have a slight yellow tint to them, which is often undesirable.”

Increasing Light Absorption
Anton says in the case of Vapor Tech’s solution, a darker black surface is achieved by increasing the light absorption of the film. Vapor Tech’s proprietary optical absorption process produces a surface for the base coating that acts as a light trap and increases the amount of light absorbed by the surface.

He says an attribute of Vapor Tech’s methodology is that the process enables the coating to be “tuned” to achieve different shades and tints of “black.” This is an important advantage in being able to achieve precise color matching to meet customer requirements, Anton says.

According to Humenik, 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,” Humenik says. He adds that the 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.

“American product companies and manufacturers are facing intense, relentless global competition that’s growing every day,” Humenik says. “We’re 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.”

For more information, please visit Vaportech.com.