PVD Coating on Golf Clubs
You will notice that a whole bunch of new golf equipment being released has a new type of finish on the heads, this is called PVD. In the past golf clubs were finished by polishing or painting. When heads come of the casting production line they look rough and have split lines (left over ridges from the tooling) that has to be polished off. The club head is then either sandblasted and polished or sandblasted and painted. This part of the manufacturing process is such a messy and dirty job that most club head manufacturers outsource this to smaller companies. PVD appliation can cause problems as most of the large club head factories do not have facilities to apply PVD, therfore, heads are often sent to smaller specialist companies to apply PVD which can result in production delays.
If we look at a new driver like the Taylormade R11 you will see that the sole and face of the club has a smart black looking finish. That finish is the PVD. The white top on the R11 is a plastic wrapped technology which is also a new idea for golf equipment. I have heard reports that the white top tends to crease and can come off in extreme cold temperatures.
Some of the new Iron ranges are also finished with PVD which gives them a darker more modern look. When a manufacturer orders a PVD finish there is a huge selection of colors to choose from, with most manufacturers going for darker colors which are more practical for golf clubs. PVD is available in much brighter colors like deep greens, blues and purples. It remains to be seen whether any manufacturer will be slightly more ambitious and go for a brighter color.
PVD stands for Physical Vapour Disposition.
How is PVD Applied?
The PVD process works in a vacuum with the target material, heat, electrical potential
and gasses such as nitrogen to deposit a coating on the product. The product is put
into the chamber and then an electrical source which enables a voltage difference is applied. The chamber is emptied and heated up to high temperatures (example :100-600°C). A tiny amount of gas (Nitrogen for TiN) is fed into the PVD chamber. A plasma cloud is then ignited which evaporates the target material and deposits the coating on the product in a controlled and precise manner. Different materials and gas types are used to create various types of coatings all of which have different properties.
Some of the golf clubs I have tested look fantastic when new but after hitting a 100 balls or so (especially with wedges in the sand) I noticed small scratches started appearing on the surface of the club. One particular 7 iron had PVD on the face and after sustained hitting a large part of the coating had come off completely.
I think this may be a short lived coating technology found on golf equipment. Although the clubs look fantastic on the shelf after six months of playing golf with them they are going to look awful, scratched and worn. In fact if you love your clubs you may even decide to sandblast the PVD off the club completely!
Have you used PVD finished golf clubs? Leave a comment and let us know if the coating is wearing off.