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S3p – Scalable pulsed power plasma

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S3p – Scalable pulsed power plasma

Oerlikon Balzers - S3p

S3p combines the advantages of the arc evaporation and sputtering technologies:

  • High ionisation in the process without droplets
  • Smooth coating surface
  • Very high coating density and hardness
  • Excellent adhesion

The unique process window and the separate scalability of

  • Pulse duration
  • Pulse shape
  • Current density

open up unprecedented options in coating design. Customised coatings that precisely fulfil the requirements of the respective application are now reality with S3p.

Arc Evaporation

In arc evaporation, a small spot of a high electrical current moves on the surface of a target. The material immediately melts and the metal vapour condenses on the work piece. Because of the explosive nature of the process, droplets of liquid metal are formed, which may cause a rough surface of the coating surface. Reactive gas can be introduced to form compounds.

Process characteristics
  • High degree of Ionisation
Coating properties
  • High density, high hardness
  • Excellent adhesion
  • Less smooth, droplets


Sputtering is a process whereby atoms are ejected from a solid target material due to bombardment of the target by energetic particles. In thin-film coating, this is achieved by accelerating Argon ions towards a solid target where they knock out metal atoms which are collected at the work piece. Compounds such as metal nitrides are formed by introducing gas in the vacuum chamber.

Process characteristics:
  • Low degree of Ionisation
Coating properties:
  • Low density, low hardness
  • Moderate adhesion
  • Smooth surface

Coatings that write history

A technological milestone has been achieved: BALIQ™ - the new coating generation by Oerlikon Balzers. It is based on our S3p technology (Scalable Pulsed Power Plasma) that intelligently combines the advantages of arc evaporation and sputtering.

The result is BALIQTM, a new family of wear-resistant coatings with revolutionary properties for a unique spectrum of applications. You benefit from new possibilities that transcend anything seen before – with coatings tailored precisely to your needs.


  • Precision

    The high precision in coating thickness distribution guarantees a high precision of the cutting edges. Outstanding results are achieved especially with tools that have ultra-small diameters.

  • Scalability

    Precise and independent scalability of pulse duration, -shape and unique power scalability within S3p enables tailored coatings. The limits of conventional HiPIMS are overcome with the unique process window as well as significantly higher deposition rates and process stability.

  • Smoothness

    The revolutionary smooth surface and the low defects of S3p based coatings enable smooth chip evacuation. A mechanical post-treatment is not needed. Adhesion of workpiece material especially for difficult to machine materials and build-up edges are avoided even with difficult-to-machine materials.

  • Coating Design
    Coating Design

    A large variety of different coating materials can be used with S3p technology. This enables a high number of different application specific coating solutions.

  • Adhesion

    S3p based coatings stand out by a very good coating-substrate bonding. High adhesion - at least as high as with coatings deposited by Arc Evaporation - guarantees long and reproducible tool life times.

  • Hardness

    Arc as well as S3p based coatings show a high coating hardness, which result in a high abrasive wear resistance of the coatings.

  • Density

    The coating density of S3p based coatings approaches bulk density. DC-sputter coatings show a more open columnar structure, with its disadvantage of lower toughness and less resistance to crack propagation and diffusion.

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