Surface treatments : coating thickness measurements

Material surfaces are subject to numerous interactions with their environment. To add a specific functionality needed to meet the requirements of a given application, surface treatments are used to change the appearance of a material (decoration, luxury…), as well as its physicochemical properties : resistance to corrosion and wear, optical properties…

Surface treatments : coating thickness measurements

Contrary to conversion and thermochemical treatments, surface treatments consist in adding a thin layer, rarely thicker than a millimeter and can even be only a few nanometers thick. These deposits usually fall into two categories :

  • Wet deposits, such as electrolytic deposits, chemical deposits (nickel, copper…) and immersion deposits (galvanization, tin plating…)
  • Dry deposits, such as thermal projections, vapor deposits (CVD and PVD), plasma assisted deposits…

Other techniques for coating thickness measurements​

Inspecting coating thickness is a key step to ensure the functionality of a surface treatment. This can be done non-destructively (Eddy current, Ultrasound, X-ray fluorescence…) this measurement is also implemented after specific cross section preparation (coating and polishing, localized ion-beam, microtomy…) using different characterization techniques :

  • Optical microscopy (binocular, metallographic microscopy…)
  • Conventional scanning electron microscopy (SEM) or with a field emission gun (FEG) usually paired with a microprobe (Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy) used to determine the elemental chemical composition of a surface treatment
  •  Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) on a thin slide to access nanometer thick layers

Other more complex analytical techniques such as X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) or Glow Discharge Mass Spectrometry (GDMS) can also be used.

Why choose FILAB laboratory for the coating thickness measurement ?

With extensive experience in implementing these different techniques and having renown expert knowledge, FILAB is able to assist you with analysis and inspections of coating thickness and of defects found in the surface treatment.

For more information, feel free to contact us via email at

Alexandre VIGLIONE
Alexandre VIGLIONE Technical Sales Representative
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