Diamond-like Carbon (DLC)

The benefits of diamond on the surface.

What is Diamond-like Carbon?

Have you ever heard of diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings? If not, you may be surprised to learn what enhancements they can bring to your projects. Diamond-like carbon is a category or classification for a specific family of thin-film coatings. This group of coatings is typically used on critical wear components to drastically improve durability, decrease friction, and improve the general function of certain components like gears, extrusion tooling, weapon components, automotive parts, and many more.

Diamond, an ideal material

Diamond has been prized for millennium, but the recent increase in interest is driven not by the beauty of diamond, but instead by its exceptional properties including extreme hardness, high thermal conductivity, high electrical resistivity, low coefficient of friction, high degree of chemical inertness, large energy gap, low infrared absorption, and high breakdown voltage. What if this constellation of unique characteristics could be applied to other materials? That’s the question that drove the development of diamond-like carbon.
Diamond-like carbon coatings for wear, friction, and corrosion

How is DLC applied

As mentioned earlier, a DLC coating is typically applied using Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD). This process allows for extremely thin layers of DLC to be applied to the substrate without affecting the component dimensions. PECVD is also an environmentally friendly coating process, unlike other methods of coating parts and components. For more information about PECVD, we have a complete article explaining the ins and outs of PECVD.


What unique properties does DLC provide?

Diamond-like carbon coatings have extraordinary properties that make them ideal for a variety of uses. They feature low friction, temperature stability, and chemical resistance, making them useful in a broad range of applications from automobiles to aerospace engineering. Diamond-like carbon coatings also offer protection against wear and abrasion, which prevents degradation and extends the life of the components they protect. In addition, these coatings are usually environmentally friendly since they contain no volatile organic compounds. With all these advantages, diamond-like carbon coatings are an invaluable resource for anyone looking to enhance the performance of their products or materials.
Some of the advantageous properties of diamond-like carbon coating:
  • Low Coefficient of Friction
  • High Hardness
  • Corrosion Resistance
  • Adhesive Wear Resistance
  • Environmentally Friendly Coating Process
  • Electrically Insulative
  • Broad Optical Transparency
  • High Thermal Conductivity
UPT offers leading edge diamond-like carbon coatings

Cake Anyone?

dlc coating
An easy way to understand how DLC varies by vendor is to think of vendors like bakers. Each baker has their own recipe for their 5-layer triple chocolate cake, which means that each cake, although named the same, will taste different. Some will tickle your tastebuds, while others singe them. The same is true for DLC coatings, they’re not all created equal. DLC coating provides develop their own recipes that are great for some applications and not-so-great for others.
At UPT we bake cakes for some of the most demanding clients on the planet, like the US Military. Let’s see if we have a recipe for your application.


Building on the cake comparison, one of the great aspects of diamond-like carbon is that it can be customized to achieve a set of desired properties. Because DLC is an engineered coating, properties like, hardness, friction coefficient, surface finish, and others can be created based on your goals. This customization can be achieved by altering the hydrogen content (hydrogenated or hydrogen-free), selection of doping elements (metallic or non-metallic), sub-layer presence, and methods used for deposition and bonding. Modifying these factors can create a broad range of DLC coatings.
dlc coating
During the early stages of your component engineering process, consider using a DLC coating to improve the component’s properties. With a robust R&D department we can help you achieve the results you’re looking for through the development and/or application of a diamond-like carbon coating.
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Common Applications

How thin are DLC coatings?

DLC coatings are incredibly thin, so thin that they’re typically measured in microns (µm). Most UPT DLC coatings range from 3 – 5 µm, but the thickness can be adjusted based on the application goals. For comparison, the average human hair is 70 µm. This graphic shows how DLC coatings compare to other super small items.
Because they are so thin, DLC coatings are ideal for applications with tight tolerances. They won’t alter the physical dimensions of the component being coated. This is a major advantage in precision applications like molding and forming and components that require tight seals, like valve seats.
Diamond-like carbon coatings from UPT range in thickness from 10nm to 12 microns

Final Thoughts

Diamond-like Carbon coatings are an invaluable tool for protecting against wear, as well as damage from corrosion, friction, and heat. This technology makes it possible to create incredibly durable products without sacrificing aesthetics or performance. For those looking for superior protection without a compromised finish, Diamond-like Carbon coatings are the ideal solution. With its ability to withstand extreme temperatures and harsh environments, diamond-like carbon coatings are the perfect choice for any application.
At United Protective Technologies we’re Bringing Solutions like DLC to the Surface.
We currently have 2 Diamond-like carbon coatings available for commercial application, P50 & P51+. To learn if our DLC coatings are right for your application or to get started with a coating project, reach out.Solutions Team We'd love to help.
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