Pathways for innovation in physical vapour deposition (PVD)
Vapour deposition technologies have over the last forty years revolutionised the use of industrial cutting tools when used in high performance machining of metals. The foundation of this success was built on the vapour deposition of thin ceramic films, with the first market leader being titanium nitride. The innovation that was to form a platform for future development of PVD coatings was their densification by ion bombardment during the vapour deposition process. This aspect of PVD technology and the emergence of new PVD coatings for cutting tools is discussed in the light of current definitions of innovation. The argument is made that, notwithstanding the fact that PVD is a mature technology it is fertile ground for innovation given its ability to build new structures atom-by-atom. Examples of current research are presented to support this contention. In conclusion, the paper returns to the key issue of innovation and its key role in promoting growth and improved living standards. The point is made that given the knowledge, the technology, the infrastructure and culture then innovation is about people. This is discussed in the light of people using 21st century tools to collaborate as recently witnessed in crowdsourcing. © Institute of Materials Engineering Australasia Ltd.