Cutting Tool Engineering
September 2011 / Volume 63 / Issue 9

Designer coats

By Alan Richter, Editor

Tailoring the phases, morphology and composition of coatings enables cutting tool designers to enhance a tool’s properties and effectiveness. Sulzer Metaplas GmbH introduced the modular Metaplas-DOMINO machine to allow those designers to more carefully adjust the coating microstructure and achieve the desired results, according to Volker von der Heide, head of systems sales for the equipment manufacturer and coating company. “This gives the possibility for new coating architectures because you can design coatings in a totally new way,” he said.

According to von der Heide, the new coating architectures are partly achieved as a result of HIPAC (High-Ionization Plasma-Assisted Coating) technology, which combines the company’s HCPMS (High-Current Pulsed Magnetron Sputtering) and power-etching AEGD (Arc-Enhanced Glow Discharge) technologies. That combination provides high ionization of not only the metals sputtered, or deposited, onto the substrate, but also the sputtering argon gas, producing a denser coating with fewer defects than one deposited without a high-ionization gas, von der Heide noted. “If you also have high ionization of the working gas, then the sputtering efficiency is much higher,” he said, noting that AEGD provides high ionization of the gas.

Courtesy of Sulzer Metaplas

The Metaplas-Domino machine includes multiple modules that allow coating technologies to be combined to create hybrid designs.

AEGD cleans the substrate surface to enhance coating adhesion, he added.

Although HIPAC offers a level of ionization similar to the arc evaporation coating process, HIPAC allows better control of the energetic metal ion bombardment of the substrate, the company reports. That improvement reduces the size and number of molten droplets on the coating surface to increase smoothness.

The modular design of the machine allows combining coating technologies to create hybrid techniques, such as one using arc evaporation and magnetron sputtering. “You can run the hybrid processes and add some elements inside a coating to achieve a certain property that you were not able to achieve in the past,” von der Heide said.

The machine can deposit coatings at a temperature as low as 60° C, he added.

For more information about Sulzer Metaplas GmbH, Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, call +49 2204 299-0 or visit

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