Heat treatment of decorative TiN coatings as a color control method

V. Rubanik, D. Bahrets, S. Pryakhin


This paper presents the results of an investigation of decorative properties of gold-colored titanium nitride (TiN) coatings on austenitic stainless steel substrate by ion-plasma method. It is known that a wide range of colors can be obtained by heat treatment of TiN films at temperatures above 500 °C. The aim of the present paper was to demonstrate that by adjusting process conditions, it is possible to adjust coating colors over a wide range due to annealing process in air at temperatures up to 500°C. The color of the coatings was identified by the CIEL*a*b* system because it is well suited for identification of color, differences in color coordinates as well as degree of approximation to reference material. Chromaticity of decorative TiN coatings was determined by three components: L* indicates lightness, a* and b* represent chroma. The color changes of TiN coatings after low-temperature annealing were discussed. It was shown that chroma and lightness of TiN coatings can be controlled by heat treatment parameters. The difference in chroma (red or yellow) of TiN coatings was shown in the temperature range from 300 to 500 °C. Decrease in chroma took place starting at T=400 °С as the annealing time was increased. The optimal annealing regime was determined in order to achieve a color match and have close approximations to the color of ZlSrM 900-40 alloy which is used as reference material.

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