Industrial Applications of Thin Film Technology

Industrial Applications of Thin Film Technology

For thousands of years, we’ve seen thin film optical coatings used in one form or another. Originally utilized for purely decorative purposes, today, their usage is far broader.

Presently, they serve a myriad of commercial and industrial purposes, including:

Reflector Coatings

  • Manufacturers often use silver and aluminum to create the reflecting strips we see on vehicles<

Hard (Metallurgical) Coatings

  • Hard layers on tools and components
    • Often used to increase the longevity and efficiency of hard cutting tools
    • Used to fortify items that will see wear during operational life, such as injection molds

Corrosion Protection Coatings

  • Used to create a barrier against harsh chemicals that materials may come in contact with
    • In aerospace engineering, companies coat parts in aluminum to prevent galvanic corrosion of other parts they come in contact with
    • In the medical industry, professionals coat metals implanted within the human body in carbon to prevent metallosis or allergic reactions to metal

Polymer Films

  • Used in the formation of hydrophobic surface coatings
    • Used commonly in the aviation and automobile industries


  • Manufacturers often use barrier coatings on flexible polymer films to limit the transmission of water vapor and oxygen during transport

Electrically Conductive Films

  • Many use metal films as electric conductors which may blanket a certain material or simply form them into discrete conductor lines as seen in circuit boards

Electrical Insulators

  • Often used as a buffer between conducting components in semiconductors

Optical Films

  • Frequently formed by multilayer stacks that impact the transmission of light through a glass or plastic polymer (anti-reflective coating, UV-protection, blue-blockers, etc.)
  • The aviation and automobile fields use these, as well as the field of ophthalmology

Thermal Control

  • Often applied to windows, thermal control coatings can cut or block varying degrees of the solar radiation that passes through the window
    • Use thermal barrier coatings in various fields, such as aviation, to keep heat from affecting the substrate itself

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