When our designers were creating The Splash Lab product range, they were faced with a challenge: how to produce diverse restroom products in a range of finishes while maintaining consistency and quality? The solution was Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD), a vacuum-coating technique that vaporizes the source material into a plasma of atoms or molecules and deposits them on a wide range of substrates which, in the case of The Splash Lab faucets and fittings, is stainless steel. The end result is a thin film of PVD that coats the product in a colored finish, which for The Splash Lab includes brass, copper, bronze, black and satin.
The PVD process is carried out in a high-vacuum chamber using temperatures between 150°C and 500°C. After our fittings have been cleaned using a chemical process called passivation, they are jigged and secured in the vacuum-deposition equipment chamber. The equipment is pumped down to the optimum pressure, depending upon the coating materials, substrate and process used, and the vapour deposition coating begins to spray.
Each coating is a mix of several gasses including titanium, aluminium, nitrogen, zirconium and carbon, and the different aesthetic finishes are achieved by varying the amounts of each. To achieve a uniform thin-film coating – the thicknesses of which are often only a few atoms or molecules thick – the fittings are jigged in the machine in a way which allows them to rotate on their axis, while the whole chamber also rotates.
Why we use PVD for our restroom-fittings range
- Coating thinness. One key reason we chose the PVD process was because the thin coating of PVD color allowed the beauty and fine brushing of the stainless steel to show through on the products. The thin coating of PVD also eliminated the dimensional changes that can occur when using traditional thick coatings.
- Durability. PVD coating is extremely hard, giving the products a much higher scratch resistance.
- Sustainability. It’s environmentally friendly, as there are no toxic byproducts in the PVD process, unlike other alternative coating processes, such as powder coating or electro-plating.
Where else is PVD used?
PVD coating is used in a wide variety of applications, from the aerospace and automotive-parts industry for its hardening properties, through to decorative coatings on luxury watches and firearms.
How you can use PVD fittings in the washroom
We coat all our brushed stainless steel washroom products with colored PVD, not only because we like how it looks but also because it increases the durability of the steel, reduces its vulnerability to corrosion and the process is kind to the environment. All TSL products – from our capacitive and IR faucets to our WC flush valve, hand dryer, soap dispensers, toilet brush holder and coat hook – can be specified in a matching colored PVD finish, giving your washroom a consistent design aesthetic. To view our products in-situ, click here to see how they are used in a beautiful wine bar in London or to learn more about our range of products, visit our product page for information and specification downloads.
Image 3: Bottles Wine Bar, London using The Splash lab products