Hard coatings are found to have multiple applications. For instance, they are used for coating lenses to render them resilient to scratches and subsequently, improve their toughness and increase their lifespan.
Hard coatings are resilient to corrosion, wear, and resistant to temperature. They also have a low friction coefficient post lubrication.
They also find applications in cutting tools, decorative coatings, optics, gears, bearings, cams, cylinders, hydraulic and pneumatic components, injection molding dies, implants and firearms.
Hard coatings are generally accomplished through two processes, namely physical vapor deposition (PVD) and chemical vapor deposition (CVD). PVD is a vaporization coating technique wherein the base material forms a thin layer of coating on a particular body by its evaporation and condensation.
Such base materials would comprise ceramics or metals, such as oxides, nitrides and carbides.
The technologies involved in physical vapor deposition are electron beam, sputter deposition, evaporative deposition, physical vapor deposition, pulsed laser deposition and cathodic arc deposition. The PVD process exhibits many advantages, such as toughness, low friction, higher resistance to wear & tear and oxidation and hence, finds applications in key industries, such as automotive, aerospace & defense and heavy engineering.
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Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) is an atmosphere-controlled coating technique in which the precursor, in a solid state, is coated in a gaseous form. This takes place in a CVD reactor.
The CVD technique for hard coatings provides high purity, fine grained and impervious bulk materials that find applications in various industries. These coatings find applications in the optical fiber & semiconductor industries and in the manufacturing of related appliances.
Some other hard coating procedure types are packed diffusion, dipping, sol gel, micro-oxidation, laser aided technologies, and ionic beam surface treatment.
In recent times, the fast growth of the healthcare industry has been translating into an increase in the demand for medical equipment & devices, which in turn, require hard coatings to be applied during their manufacturing process. This has been driving the hard coatings market at a global level.
Also, there has been a rise in awareness among end users with regard to the application advantages hard coatings provide to their products.
Besides, major manufacturers have also been focusing on extensive research & development (R&D) activities to create and launch new products with superior features to gain market share through a competitive advantage. These technology advancements are also expected to expand the market size in the next few years.
Furthermore, rapidly growing economies in Asia Pacific and Latin American are expected to create further growth opportunities for the hard coatings market.
However, the hard coatings business involves high amounts of initial capital investment. Hard coatings operations also incur a high total ownership cost.
Besides, there are several ongoing developments aimed at producing relatively inexpensive alternatives to hard coatings. These factors could hinder the market growth of the hard coatings market in the near future.
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