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Tom Beaumont

Product Training Manager

18 years engineering experience, specializing in 3 & 4 axis CNC milling, turning and horizontal boring.

 When it comes to enhancing the durability, performance, and aesthetics of cutting tools, surface coatings can play a pivotal role provided they are used in the right applications.


Among the popular coating methods, the two most commonly used are Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).

Both techniques offer unique advantages and applications, making it essential to understand their differences to make an informed decision.

In this article, we will delve into the characteristics, benefits, and considerations associated with PVD and CVD coatings, ultimately helping you determine which one suits your specific requirements.


What is PVD coating?

PVD coating, which stands for Physical Vapour Deposition, is a surface treatment process used to apply thin films onto various materials. In PVD coating, a solid material is vaporised into a gaseous state within a vacuum chamber.

The vaporised material then condenses and deposits as a thin film onto the substrate's surface. This deposition occurs through physical processes like evaporation or sputtering.

They are commonly used in industries such as automotive, aerospace, cutting tools, and decorative applications to enhance the surface properties and performance of materials.

PVD coating is used on a variety of tools to enhance their performance and durability, such as:

End Mills: PVD-coated end mills are used for milling operations and can provide improved wear resistance, extended tool life, and increased cutting speeds.

Drills: PVD-coated drills offer enhanced hardness and wear resistance, making them suitable for drilling operations in various materials.

Inserts: PVD-coated inserts, such as turning inserts or milling inserts, can provide increased tool life, improved surface finish, and reduced friction during machining processes. With PVD inserts, the most common coating is TiAlN.

Taps: PVD-coated taps offer improved wear resistance and extended tool life when used for threading operations.


What are the advantages of PVD coating?

PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) coatings offer several advantages, making them a popular choice for various applications. Here are some key advantages of PVD coatings:

Enhanced Hardness: PVD coatings can significantly increase the hardness of the substrate material, improving its resistance to wear, abrasion, and surface damage. This helps to extend the lifespan of the coated component or tool.

Improved Wear Resistance: PVD coatings provide excellent wear resistance, reducing friction and preventing premature tool or component failure. The enhanced wear resistance allows for longer tool life and increased productivity.

High Adhesion: PVD coatings exhibit excellent adhesion to the substrate material, ensuring that the coating remains securely bonded to the surface. This results in a durable and long-lasting coating that can withstand demanding operating conditions.

Versatility: PVD coatings offer a wide range of customisable properties, allowing for tailored coatings to meet specific application requirements. The composition, thickness, and structure of the coatings can be precisely controlled to achieve desired properties such as hardness, lubricity, or corrosion resistance.

Low Processing Temperatures: PVD coatings are deposited at relatively low temperatures, between 250C°-450C°, which makes them suitable for coating heat-sensitive materials without causing thermal damage or distortion.

Environmental Friendliness: PVD coating processes are typically environmentally friendly compared to other coating methods. They are generally free from harmful by-products or hazardous chemicals, making them a more sustainable choice.

Decorative Finishes: PVD coatings can also provide decorative finishes, offering a wide range of colours and aesthetic options for applications such as jewellery, watches, and architectural components.


Why would you chose PVD coating over CVD coating?

Physical vapour deposition (PVD) is a widely utilised technique for coating inorganic materials such as metals and certain organic substances. This method offers numerous advantages, including:

Temperature resistance: PVD films exhibit exceptional heat resistance, withstanding temperatures exceeding 400 degrees Celsius. This characteristic makes them highly suitable for manufacturing high-performance solar power technology and other applications that require resistance to intense heating.

Abrasion and impact resistance: PVD techniques can generate extremely thin layers, as thin as 2.5 micrometres, which provide superior resistance against abrasions. This feature ensures enhanced durability and longevity of coated surfaces.

Environmental friendliness: Unlike chemical vapour deposition (CVD), PVD does not produce hazardous byproducts or employ hazardous gases in its processes. Instead, PVD utilises high-power electricity or lasers to vaporise the coating material, thereby minimising environmental impact.

Wear-resistant coating: PVD finds extensive use in various coating applications, including enhancing wear resistance and reducing friction in cutting tools, as well as creating anisotropic glasses for semiconductors. Its applications span industries such as architecture, automotive, jewellery, and more.

When comparing the costs of PVD and CVD, it is important to note that PVD generally incurs higher expenses. However, many manufacturers consider PVD as the optimal choice for their specific applications, given its unique advantages and suitability for their requirements.


What is CVD coating?

CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) coating is a surface treatment process used to apply thin films onto various materials.

Unlike PVD coating, which relies on physical processes, CVD coating involves chemical reactions in a controlled environment. In CVD, a reactive gas mixture is introduced into a vacuum chamber, where it undergoes chemical reactions to deposit a thin film onto the substrate's surface.

The film is formed through the deposition of vaporised precursor molecules that react and form a solid coating. CVD coatings offer excellent conformal coverage, precise control over film thickness, and the ability to coat complex shapes and internal surfaces.

These coatings can provide enhanced properties such as wear resistance, corrosion resistance, thermal stability, and electrical conductivity.

CVD coating is used on a variety of tools to enhance their performance and durability, such as:

Cutting Tools: CVD-coated cutting tools, such as drills, end mills, and inserts, are widely used in machining operations. The CVD coating improves their wear resistance, heat resistance, and overall cutting performance.

Inserts: CVD-coated inserts, including turning inserts and milling inserts, are popular choices in metal cutting applications. The CVD coating provides enhanced hardness, wear resistance, and durability, resulting in improved tool life and productivity. With CVD inserts, the most common form of coating is TiCN & aluminium oxide.

Reamers: CVD-coated reamers, used for precision hole sizing and finishing, benefit from the coating's wear resistance and lubricity properties. This improves the tool's performance and extends its lifespan.

Indexable Inserts: CVD coatings are often applied to indexable inserts, which are replaceable cutting edges used in various cutting operations. The coating enhances its performance in terms of wear resistance, heat resistance, and chip evacuation.

Forming and Stamping Tools: CVD coatings can also be applied to forming and stamping tools, such as punches and dies. The coating improves their surface hardness, and wear resistance, and reduces galling, enabling them to withstand the high pressures and abrasive forces involved in these applications.

Solid Carbide Tools: Solid carbide tools, including end mills, drills, and reamers, can benefit from a CVD coating. The coating enhances the tool's performance, extends tool life, and improves productivity in cutting operations.


What are the advantages of CVD coating?

CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) coatings offer several advantages, making them a popular choice for various applications. Here are some key advantages of CVD coatings:

Excellent Adhesion: CVD coatings exhibit excellent adhesion to the substrate material, resulting in a strong and durable bond. This ensures that the coating remains securely attached to the surface, even under demanding operating conditions.

Uniform and Conformal Coating: CVD coatings provide uniform and conformal coverage, even on complex shapes and internal surfaces. This makes them suitable for coating intricate geometries with high precision, ensuring consistent performance across the entire coated surface.

Tailored Properties: CVD coatings can be precisely controlled to achieve desired properties. By adjusting the process parameters and precursor gases, the composition, thickness, and structure of the coating can be customized to meet specific application requirements. This allows for tailored properties such as hardness, wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and thermal stability.

High Heat Resistance: CVD coatings exhibit excellent thermal stability and heat resistance, making them suitable for applications involving high-temperature environments. They can withstand elevated temperatures without significant degradation, maintaining their performance and integrity.

Versatility: CVD coatings are versatile and can be applied to a wide range of materials, including metals, ceramics, and even polymers. This versatility allows for the enhancement of various substrates, expanding the potential applications of CVD-coated materials.

Wear Resistance: CVD coatings provide excellent wear resistance, reducing friction and preventing premature tool or component failure. The enhanced wear resistance prolongs the tool’s life, leading to increased productivity and cost savings.

Chemical Resistance: CVD coatings can offer improved chemical resistance, protecting the substrate material from corrosive environments. This is particularly beneficial in applications where exposure to chemicals or aggressive substances is a concern.

Electrical and Thermal Conductivity: Depending on the coating material and its composition, CVD coatings can exhibit desirable electrical or thermal conductivity properties. This makes them suitable for applications that require controlled electrical conductivity or efficient heat transfer.


Why would you choose CVD coating over PVD?

Chemical vapour deposition (CVD) offers a versatile technique for surface coating of substrates. When comparing CVD to physical vapour deposition (PVD), it is important to consider the following benefits of the CVD method:

High purity: The CVD method is favoured by many manufacturers for coating materials that require specialised thin films with precise thickness. Unlike liquid coating processes, CVD employs gas coating materials, minimising impurities, and ensuring high purity.

Uniform coating: CVD is a conformal deposition process that uniformly coats substrates, irrespective of their shape, resulting in an even coating. This approach allows for the creation of desired layers starting from the substrate, which is particularly advantageous in producing conductive films.

Application versatility: CVD is employed by manufacturers to generate thin layers on various materials, regardless of their rigidity, flexibility, or density. CVD systems find application in a wide range of industries, from electronics manufacturing to the production of crisp bags. Moreover, CVD enables the production of large graphene sheets, arrays of carbon nanotubes, and other essential coated manufacturing materials.

Cost-effectiveness: CVD systems are more cost-efficient compared to PVD systems, providing an economical solution for surface coating requirements.

The CVD method offers advantages such as high purity, uniform coating, application versatility, and cost-effectiveness when compared to PVD systems.



In conclusion, choosing between PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) and CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) coatings depends on your specific requirements and applications. Both methods offer unique advantages and can significantly enhance the durability, performance, and aesthetics of various products.

When making a decision, consider the specific applications, the materials being machined, and the cutting data involved. Evaluate factors such as cutting speed, feed rate, and depth of cut to determine whether PVD or CVD coatings are more suitable for your needs. Ultimately, careful consideration of these factors will help you choose the coating method that best matches your requirements, resulting in improved tool performance, extended tool life, and enhanced productivity.

To help you decide on whether PVD or CVD is best for you, please contact our expert technical team for advise on 01924 869 615 or email


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