What is PVD coating and why does it matter. 

As a master plumber, PVD coating may seem like an incredibly simple concept for you, but that does not mean it is the case for your technicians. Your customers are likely to ask your plumbers questions about PVD coating, along with other services and innovations in plumbing. But, is your team ready to answer those questions?

Ensuring that your technicians can answer all of these questions regarding PVD coating is a savvy strategy. It will show your customers that your team is educated and informed. They will also appreciate your team going out of their way to explain a concept to them, helping customers make an informed decision.

We have gathered the most crucial information regarding PVD coating that your plumbers should know. While it never hurts for them to know even more than we included here, the following is the bare minimum.

What is PVD coating?

PVD coating stands for physical vapor deposition coating, and it is also called thin-film coating. This coating type is applied when engineers vaporize solid material in a vacuum before depositing it onto a part’s surface.

What makes this type of coating interesting is that it is not just an extra layer of metal. Instead of only depositing materials in a layer or traditional coating, the process deposits compound materials at the smallest level, atom by atom. This creates a metal-ceramic or metal layer that is thin and bonded.

Essentially, this process takes a condensed material and turns it into a vapor, then applies it to become condensed again, this time in a thin film on the material. 

The following image shows an overview of the process of applying a PVD coating.

chart that shows source to gas phase to solid phase

To put it into another perspective, you can divide the process of applying the PVD coating into four stages:

  1. Evaporation: A source of high energy, such as ions or electrons, bombards the target, vaporizing the atoms on the surface of it, so those atoms get deposited on the desired piece.
  2. Transport: This is the process of the vaporized atoms going from the original target to the plumbing material or other item that will receive the coating.
  3. Reaction: Some PVD coatings feature metal oxides, carbides, or nitrides. In these cases, the metal atoms might be exposed to gas during transport to create a reaction of some sort.
  4. Deposition: this final phase is when the new coating builds on the desired object and bonds to its surface. There are multiple deposition methods, including:
  •   Cathodic arc deposition
  •   Electron beam physical vapor deposition
  •   Pulsed laser deposition
  •   Sputter deposition
  •   Evaporative deposition

The following image shows sputtering or sputter deposition:

illustration of sputtering gas

PVD coatings are commonly used to boost wear resistance, oxidation resistance, and hardness. They are common in more than just the plumbing industry. PVD coatings are also used for automotive, firearms, cutting tools, jewelry, watches, darts barrels, thin films, metals, dies and molds, and aerospace applications. They are suitable for decorative purposes.

Importantly, PVD coatings are safe, and, compared to other methods of plating, they are environmentally friendly. In fact, PVD coatings are so pure and clean that they are commonly used for medical implants and surgical tools.

Major trends influencing PVD coating.

What does PVD coating prevent?

As mentioned briefly before, PVD coating helps prevent scratches and corrosion while improving the overall durability and hardness of the part in question.

Engineers and plumbers can also choose specific processes and materials to give the plumbing parts the traits they want, such as hardness, adhesion, and lubricity. The PVD coating reduces friction while also creating a protective barrier to reduce the risk of damage.

Depending on the plumbing component in question, PVD coatings are useful for decorative reasons, creating the color or finish that clients want. This would be more common in plumbing components that are visible, such as faucets. 

The way that a given PVD coating is engineered will determine the specific things that it prevents, but the coating can have the following properties:

  •   High wear resistance
  •   Low friction
  •   Anti-sticking
  •   High oxidation resistance
  •   High hardness
  •   Brilliant finish in a color of choice
  •   High scratch resistance
  •   Accurate thickness control

How Common Are Issues That Could Be Prevented by PVD Coating?

Given that plumbing constantly interacts with water, corrosion is a constant problem and one of the things that PVD coatings can assist with. Durability would also be an issue without PVD coatings, as one of the goals with any plumbing component is to last as long as possible.

The individual pieces of PVD coating – common questions about PVD coating.

Does PVD Coating Wear Off?

Yes, PVD coating is more durable than parts that do not have this coating, but it is not invincible and can eventually start to wear off. There are also processes available that remove the coatings, but there is not usually a reason to use them for plumbing.

What Is PVD Coating Used For?

PVD coating is useful in a long list of applications. It is suitable for the application of ceramic or metal to glass, plastic, or metal. Most of its applications are technological or decorative. The following are just some of the applications for PVD coatings: 

  •   Automotive industry
  •   Tools
  •   Marine industry
  •   Aerospace industry
  •   Dental and medical industries
  •   Packaging
  •   Computers and music

How tough is PVD coating?

The toughness of the PVD coating will depend on the coating itself. There have been some scientific studies on various coatings, such as this one that found hardness was the most important factor in determining coating indentation resistance. This one explores the various properties of the hard coatings made from PVD.

What is PVD gold coating?

PVD gold coating relies on the PVD coating process to create the appearance of gold. It may or may not include real gold. Compared to traditional gold plating, PVD gold coating offers numerous benefits for jewelry and other decorations, including its corrosion resistance, improved lifetime, enhanced durability, lack of discoloration, and ability to be thicker.

Educating your team on PVD coating vs. Not doing so

You may feel that your technicians do not need to know much about PVD coating, but this is not the best business decision. You want your team to know about it for several reasons.

Awareness of the materials they use.

To start, it is always wise for your technicians to be aware of the materials and parts they use. They should also know the advantages of PVD coating over another, which helps them make better decisions when offering service to your clients. This knowledge can also help them provide more efficient services, helping your bottom line.

Show your team is knowledgeable and capable.

When your team is able to easily answer questions about PVD coating and other topics frequently reserved for master plumbers, it shows that they are highly knowledgeable and capable. This increases the level of customer confidence in your technicians. That can translate into more recommendations or just an unconscious bias towards the feeling of effective delivery of results. After all, customers expect someone who knows what they are doing to do a good job.

Show you care about customers and want them to understand your services.

There is also the fact that by having the knowledge to share with your customers, you show your clients that you care about them. Some plumbers want to complete a job as quickly as possible and do not care whether their clients understand.

By contrast, when your team is willing to take the time to share their knowledge, it shows that you care more about customer satisfaction than your bottom line. This will translate to more recommendations, better reviews, and higher customer retention.

Conclusion: Why PVD coating matters for you and your plumbers.

The bottom line is that ensuring your plumbers are familiar with PVD coating and know how to explain it to your clients will help you with customer satisfaction. This leads to improvements in customer retention and loyalty, as well as recommendations. 

Those happy customers are more likely to leave you positive reviews, extending their recommendations outside of their immediate social circle. Podium can help you remind those satisfied clients to leave reviews. You can even try out Podium for free today. Podium can even boost customer satisfaction by giving customers multiple methods of contacting you and your technicians, including Webchat.

Jennifer Wilson
Jennifer Wilson Strategic Home Services Account Executive

Jennifer Wilson is a home services professional at Podium, the premiere messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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