What is PVD? Understanding the Application Process That Produces the Finest Custom Wheel Finishes

You may have heard the term physical vapor deposition, or “PVD” for short, and wondered what it is? Maybe you’re a car enthusiast and know that PVD exists, but you’re not sure what it looks like, what its durable properties are or if it’s right for your vehicle? Then again, you may not know about PVD at all…but if you love your car and are interested in making a beautiful impact on its appearance impact, then learning about this specialty product could make a world of difference in how your vehicle looks—and how you look at your vehicle.

First, let’s take a step back. Why are we at Wheel Craft discussing something like PVD in our blog? Well, our people are focused on one thing, and one thing only: Delivering the highest quality, most beautiful and most durable hand-crafted finishes for BMW, Lexus, Infiniti and other luxury-brand original equipment (OE) factory wheels.

Wheel Craft’s proprietary, next-gen finishes are gorgeous in appearance and texture—and their advanced protective properties offer unrivaled durability to ensure beauty and performance for years to come.

Wheel Craft utilizes PVD as a finishing process by which the PVD metallic material is physically applied to the wheel. As a physical process (and not a chemical process), it’s inherently cleaner than chemical application.

PVD is not new; in fact, it’s been known about for more than a century. Today, PVD is a widely used vacuum coating process that boosts product durability and corrosion resistance. Products ranging from tools, blades, molds, dies and decorative pieces are all popular targets for PVD. From a technical standpoint, PVD application processes essentially are microscopic releases or collisions that transform the material to be deposited into atomic particles. These, in turn, are applied to target substrates (e.g., wheels) within a vacuum environment which creates a physical “finish”— through accumulation of the projected atoms.

At Wheel Craft, we offer PVD chrome as a color option for our Black PVD Chrome, Bright PVD Chrome and Midnight PVD Chrome custom wheel finishes. While there are several ways to apply PVD (as referenced above), we utilize a surface application process called sputtering. This is an optimal process for materials with high melting points that can’t be evaporated. As a plasma-based coating method, it generates a magnetically confined plasma close to the target surface. From there, positively charged energetic ions collide with the negatively charged target material. Finally, atoms from the target are ejected (or “sputtered”) onto the substrate.

So, what are the benefits of having PVD applied to your custom-finished luxury wheels? Well, again, PVD applied by leading providers such as Wheel Craft are harder and more corrosion-resistant than coatings applied through an alternative process known as electroplating. Additionally, PVD typically is more environmentally friendly than electroplating and traditional painting methods. And there’s more:

  • The PVD process creates an inseparable bond with the alloy wheel to provide a more durable finish.
  • PVD is easy to clean and only requires soap and water.
  • PVD can be repaired. If you happen to scrape your wheel(s) on a curb, the professionals at Wheel Craft can strip the wheel back down, mitigate the cosmetic damage, and have your car looking showroom beautiful right away. This is impossible with traditional chrome.
  • Wheel Craft offers a five-year warranty for our PVD finish.

Related article: Understanding ISO 9001’s Importance in Certifying Custom Wheel Finish Quality

We hope this article helps you understand what PVD is, what the application process is all about, what the benefits of PVD are and why you should want it on your custom-finished luxury wheels. If you’re looking to Arrive in Style wherever the road takes you, visit wheelcraft.com or contact us for more information on our custom wheel and rim finishes for factory-installed luxury car wheels. For dealers, we welcome the opportunity to discuss how Wheel Craft can deepen customer loyalty and drive unit sales, productivity, revenue and CSI.

Please contact Wheel Craft at 833.639.4231 or email Ed Hollinshead, company President.

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