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DLC Coating | Diamond-Like Carbon Coating | CeraTough™-D

DLC Coating | Diamond-Like Carbon Coating | CeraTough™-D

DLC Coating stands for diamond-like carbon coating, and is a nanocomposite coating that has unique properties of natural diamond low friction, high hardness, and high corrosion resistance.

DLC coatings can have different structures and properties that rely on the ratio of SP3 (diamond) and SP2 (carbon) or other fillers like hydrogen, silicon, and metal in the layer.

IBC’s DLC coatings meet MIL-PRF-32711 specification for military firearms.


  • High hardness
  • Low coefficient of friction (0.02 – 0.15)
  • High corrosion resistance
  • Great adhesion to substrate material
  • Fretting resistance
  • Adhesive wear resistance
  • Self lubrication in dry wear conditions
  • Excellent release properties
  • Electrical insulation
Machine Component
Machine Component

Properties Unique to CeraTough™-D:

  • Capable of achieving high thickness (up to 30µm)
    • By comparison, typical DLC coatings have a thickness of 1-2 microns, making them poor as an application against heavy abrasion or corrosion
  • Non-line-of-sight PACVD technology allows us to DLC coat internal surfaces and complicated shapes with very high accuracy without manipulating the parts
  • Capability of duplex coatings: Ion Plasma Nitriding and DLC can be combined into one cycle
  • Excellent surface finish will mirror that of the substrate

DLC CeraTough™ Performance

The performance of our CeraTough™ MSPVD coatings deposited using our proprietary High Energy PVD process is superior to many other commercially available coatings in the most demanding heavy-duty applications.

DLC Coating Options:

CeraTough®-0603a-C:H:SiSi doped DLC
CeraTough®-0604a-C:H:WW doped DLC
CeraTough®-0605a-C:H:WCWC doped DLC
CeraTough®-0606a-C:H:CrCr doped DLC
CeraTough®-0611a-C:H+CrNDLC+ Chromium Nitride
CeraTough®-0701a-C:H:SiSi doped DLC Thin
CeraTough®-0702a-C:H:SiSi doped DLC Thick
CeraTough®-0710a-C:H:SiSi doped DLC Rainbow
CeraTough®-D-Fa-C:H:SiSi doped DLC (Approved for food contact)

Application Methods:

  • Cathodic Arc Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) with elements of CVD
  • Plasma Assisted Chemical Vapor Deposition (PACVD)

Size Capabilities:

  • CAPVD systems have a 500 lb. weight limit and can accommodate parts 30″ x 20″ x 20″ in size
  • PACVD systems have an 18,000 lb. weight limit and can accommodate parts 60″ in diameter and 83″ tall

Common Applications:

  • Cutting tools for aluminum, aluminum-silicon alloys, powder metallurgy alloys
  • Tools for metal forming and blanking
  • Plastic molds and extrusion components for abrasion and corrosion resistance, good release, and antibacterial properties
  • Hydraulic components – cylinders, pistons, gear pumps
  • Valve components – balls, gates, seats, actuators, housings
  • Automotive components – crank shafts, cam shafts, gears, bearings, piston rings, tappets, wrist pins, fuel injectors
  • Pump components – impellers, diffusers, rotors
  • Mechanical seals

Case Study: Extending Tooling Life in Aluminum Forming

Extending tooling life in aluminum forming


In January 2020, a new customer contacted IBC Coatings Technologies regarding difficulties they were having with an Aluminum flange-wipe forming operation on a part they were producing. The customer was using hardened A2 tool steel which had a Chrome Nitride PVD coating applied. The customer was struggling to produce quality parts (the tooling would mark the parts) and was forced to stop after 10 parts to clean and polish the tooling. The tools would last only 100 parts before being completely removed and replaced. The process parameters were:

  • Material being formed – 5052 Aluminum, 0.063” thick.
  • Lubricant – 3% Metchem 6850 solution with water.
  • Die Material – A2, Hardened to RC 58-60.
  • Clean die after every tenth part. Replace tool at 100 parts.

Plan of Action:

The customer asked IBC Coatings to provide recommendations for improving tooling life. After consulting with the customer IBC recommended a plan that included two elements:

  1. IBC would coat one forming segment with our Ceratough®-0502, a Chrome Nitride PVD coating comparable to the customer’s existing CrN coating.
  2. IBC recommended coating the second forming segment with our Ceratough®-0601 Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) PVD coating. This DLC coating has an extremely low coefficient of friction and hardness much higher than the A2 steel.
    The customer tracked the tooling for 100 parts and then sent the die sections to IBC for analysis.


The Chrome Nitride die section showed aluminum build-up from galling of the work piece.

results before 1
results before 2

After light sanding it was determined that the coating was still intact.

result after 1
result after 2

The DLC die section had discolorization and build up on the surface, but it did not negatively impact performance. Additional DLC coated die sections continued to operate,reaching 1,800 parts without issue and only minor cleaning with a cloth.

dlc die section discolorization not worn


  • Both PVD coatings have high hardness in the range of 2,200-2,800 Vickers.
  • The CrN based coating (Ceratough®-0502) did not wear, however galling of the work piece occurred. Localized friction and metallurgical bonding forced frequent cleaning of the tool and shortened tool life to approximately 100 parts.
  • The DLC coating (Ceratough®-0601) is composed of carbon so intermetallic compounds could be formed and the graphite content in the coating creates a very low coefficient of friction.
 CrN PVD CoatingDLC PVD Coating
Overall Tool Life100 Parts1,800 Parts
Tool Cleaning RequiredEvery 10 PartsOccasional wipe down with a clean cloth.
Other issuesGalling can occur at any time causing scrap parts.None

The customer realized a tremendous reduction in line downtime and scrap parts with virtually no added expense!

IBC Coatings Technologies (IBC) provides advanced surface treatments for metal tooling and components to improve wear and corrosion resistance. IBC’s innovative technologies are based on high energy plasma processes and thermochemical diffusion reactions. IBC serves a variety of customers across multiple industries including automotive, aerospace, oil and gas, agriculture, power generation, tool & die, metal forming, defense and food processing. In addition to coatings IBC offers laboratory services including tribological testing, failure analysis and corrosion testing.