Author Archives: Keith L.

  1. Rough Coatings Providing Rough Surfaces for Rough Environments

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    Rough Coatings Providing Rough Surfaces for Rough Environments

    One feature that varies widely among many industries is coating roughness. Smooth coatings are popular for parts with critical dimensions, cosmetic appearance requirements, and vacuum sealing applications but rough coatings have a niche of their own.

    Rough Coatings Providing Rough Surfaces for Rough Environments

    Rough coatings deposited on a metal surface have excellent bond strength properties up to 7000 PSI and can be used to increase the lifespan of equipment used in high wear applications like Brake Pads, Boilers, robotic pick-and-place and other industrial applications. These same rough coatings deposited onto chamber assemblies and shields to capture, recycle and refurbish the equipment used in CVD, PVD and other thin film deposition processes. Rough coatings can also be deposited on certain plastics and used for various grip applications.

    Although these rough Twin Wire Arc Sprayed coatings are created using the same general process as others, the parameters of the process are manipulated to create less uniform patterns of single impacted particles. Many overlapping “splats” solidify and create a layer of coating, the key to a rough coating is to adjust parameters to create peaks, valleys and spaces for a rough coating profile. These coatings are often thicker than smooth coatings, ranging between 250 – 800 microns. Rough coatings can be controlled to meet the end user specifications within a range of 50 microinch Ra. Our rough coatings have been measured up to approximately 4000 Microinch Ra.

  2. Vivid Earns ISO 9001-2015 Certification!

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    Determined to continuously improve, the Vivid team has committed to customer quality at all three of our Bay Area locations and have earned our ISO accreditation at all three manufacturing sites.

    Vivid Earns ISO 9001-2015 Certification!

    Vivid Quality Policy

    Vivid is committed to comply with all requirements and continually improve our quality management system by ensuring that our objectives are established and reviewed to reflect our philosophy of customer confidence through customer service, on time delivery, quality, efficiency, and employee empowerment.

    Vivid Earns ISO 9001-2015 Certification!

    Vivid Committment

    Vivid is committed to incorporating quality into each phase of our process. We continually calibrate our processes and work within ISO-9001 guidelines, to meet or exceed our ISO certification status ISO certification# 1101340. Because Vivid believes quality to be an integral part of the design and specification process, our staff is trained to provide complete solutions that meet cost goals and exceed quality benchmarks.

  3. High-Mix-Low-Volume – Dynamic Production

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    High Mix Low Volume allows for more dynamic production because of the intermittent change. Rather than having a high-volume product line running the same exact-copy process continuously, there are multiple products that call for process-focused principles

    High-Mix-Low-Volume - Dynamic Production

    High Mix Low Volume can help a company grow its process knowledge base and build on its core capabilities. For example, if the new process involves a value-add service like an additional stamping process; the capital equipment, process flow, employees, and systems all need to adapt. A benefit of High Mix Low Volume is the limited demand for inventory and therefore less strain on company cash flow. Multi-use processing equipment and highly organized floor plans are critical to managing and improving Takt time during High Mix Low volume production cycles. Simplifying and maintaining a predictable process for each operator helps ease the transition and leads to lower changeover times. Although not ideal, High Mix Low Volume may require sharing machines with multiple product lines, though systems will minimize the amount of machine sharing to maximize throughput.

    Of course, there are challenges to High Mix Low Volume production that must be met. Most importantly, the employees must be trained and certified in the particular process they are undertaking. High volume production is much easier (and mundane) on operators than High Mix Low Volume. If you put a screw into the same hole on the same part every day, eight hours a day, you would certainly be comfortable with that screw and handy with your screwdriver. High Mix Low Volume is a bit more mentally stimulating, systems must be easily integrated and the transition between systems must be seamless. The production lines are more virtual than physical as the miniature HMLV lines flow simultaneously. Team communication is more important in all directions and 360-degree feedback leads to a more productive integration of new systems. Enterprise Environmental Factors must allow for seamless communication or gating items will be imminent.

    Lean principles and Value Stream Mapping may not apply to High Mix Low Volume production. Eliminating minor process waste does not have the same impact on production and overall business value. High Mix Low Volume production is primarily focused on the processes, while traditional lean principles parse values based on individual product lines.

    Although many low-mix-high-volume production transitions to large contract manufacturers, there is a volume threshold that varies based on many factors and we are here to help build product until the OEM customer reaches that volume. There is certainly a place for High Mix Low Volume production in the SF Bay Area of California. Vivid is proud to have supported many startups on their journey to become Fortune 500 companies.

  4. Animated Design – Painting 3D Prints

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    It has long been established that 3D printing is going to play a large part in the future of manufacturing. 3D printing is already widely used in prototyping stages and in most situations the product finish includes painting 3D printed parts. After all, no one wants to go to a conference with a low-resolution 3D printed part. The process of painting 3D printed creations has an end result that brings the part to life. As seen below, before painting 3D printed creations the finish can have an unwanted topography and roughness.

    Animated Design - Painting 3D Prints

    Painting 3D printed plastics is challenging and can have its literal and figurative “pitfalls.” At Vivid we 3D print parts ourselves and work with 3D printed parts often. We know that not all 3D printed materials and processes can be treated the same. When painting 3D printed parts, we must first identify the plastic composition and resolution. The cleaning process, paint composition and curing process are based on these underlying factors.

    Of course, before painting 3D printed parts, preparation is paramount. A low-resolution print can lead to a lot of extra preparation before painting 3D printed designs, but most hurdles can be overcome. If you have requirements that include painting 3D printed plastic, you may want to seek out a high-resolution printing technology to save time and money on finishing. SLA printers will inherently have a better resolution and accuracy than FDM allowing for an easier process for painting 3D printed plastic.

    Animated Design - Painting 3D Prints

    Switching the process altogether is not the only means of improving resolution, the quality of the printer used, parameters and type of filament used in an FDM print process can also provide a better surface for painting 3D printed parts. The type of plastic will also play a role in the resolution, some plastics shrink more than others and painting 3D printed surfaces will change dimensions even more because of the preparation before paint.

    After some professional prep work, painting 3D printed substrates can result in the same characteristics as any other finish including gloss, texture and even soft touch. Painting 3D printed assemblies or two-color parts can provide insight on if two or more colors are easy on the eyes or if they end up clashing more than planned.

    Vivid Enclosure Group has a lot of experience painting 3D printed designs that end up at large trade shows including famous shows like Consumer Electronics Show. Although 3D printing is not yet a high-volume fabricating solution, painting 3D printed designs can give your design group a great feel for how the finished part or assembly will appear.

  5. Chrome Oxide – Rugged Sealing Surfaces

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    Chrome Oxide - Rugged Sealing Surfaces

    Chrome Oxide has very unique properties that provide value to many industries. NASA discovered the advantage of Chrome Oxide when utilized for lubricant-free foil gas bearings. Energy companies have been using Plasma Spray Chrome Oxide equipment as wear resistant coatings on excavation operations miles below the Earth’s surface.

    Plasma Sprayed Chrome Oxide is formulated to produce a wear resistant dielectric coating and provides less galling during abrasive operations. Chrome Oxide properties provide high performing seal surfaces for applications such as food processing, pressurized water reactor valves, piston rings, boiler tubes, bearing, and many other industrial operations. Plasma Sprayed Chrome Oxide thickness can reach at least 750 microns and be ground down to >32Ra and used as highly effective seal surfaces. When compared with other ceramics, Chrome Oxide possesses a better ease of lubrication, higher wear resistance with less friction damage on the opposing substrate counterpart. Chrome Oxide also has a high melting point (2435 degrees C) and is chemically stable in most circumstances. Chrome Oxide Plasma Spray can be used on certain reinforced Polymers for applications that require a lighter weight while still demanding the useful characteristics of Chrome Oxide.

    Chrome Oxide - Rugged Sealing Surfaces

    Chrome Oxide brings a lot of value to special applications. For more information and consultation on Chrome Oxide and many other material options contact us at Vivid Inc.

  6. Anti-Microbial Coatings – The Understated Defense Against Spreading Microorganisms

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    Anti-Microbial Coatings

    With the current global condition society is searching for solutions to treat the infected as well as preventive actions to mitigate the risks of infection. Anti-microbial coatings can enhance common surfaces by providing key properties on substrates that would normally allow for microorganisms to spread. Anti-microbial coatings on surfaces have shown to prevent and destroy these microorganisms. These anti-microbial coating options should be used to supplement other hygienic practices used to the combat the spread of unwanted microorganisms.

    ASM international reported a joint Canadian Development and Validation of High-Performance SARS-CoV-2 Antiviral Coatings for High-Touch Surfaces

    A 2015 study has shown how Copper can effectively assist in pre-emptively avoiding “host jump” to humans. The preventable viruses include respiratory viruses SARS and MERS. The specific anti-microbial attribute Copper provides is widely thought to be the release of Copper ions. These electrically charged Copper ions disrupt the viral coat, prevent cell respiration and destroy the genetic material (RNA) inside. “What’s more, the viral genome and structure of the viral particles were destroyed, so nothing remained that could pass on infection.” The EPA has acknowledged and provided guidelines for testing efficacy of Copper Surface sanitization. [1]

    Thermally Sprayed Copper has predictably shown to provide similar anti-microbial properties as raw Copper and Copper alloys. A study conducted by ATS Labs at Eagan Minnesota in 2013 showed that after a two hour exposure to the Copper coatings, the Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria decreased to less than 1/10th its original population with Copper Twin Wire Arc Sprayed Anti-microbial coating and was undetectable with Cold Spray. [2] Thermally Sprayed Copper can be reliably applied to plastic and metal substrates as an anti-microbial coating. Common surfaces that can provide safe haven for microorganisms can become anti-microbial thus reducing the risk of spreading. Copper coatings are also a cost effective way to gain the antimicrobial properties of copper without bearing the costs of manufacturing copper products.

    There are many ways that anti-microbial coatings work. These are mechanical and chemical strategies that have proven to work in disallowing bacteria and viruses to spread.

    Anti-Microbial Coatings

    Motivated by healthcare associated infections a decade ago, University of Toronto began studying the anti-microbial properties of copper alloy coatings deposited by the twin wire arc spray process. They found that 95% of gram-negative and gram-positive E. Coli bacteria were dead within 5 minutes of being exposed to the anti-microbial copper. The studies concluded that anti-microbial Copper Alloys coatings have potent biocidal activity that happens in minutes. [5]

    Anti-Microbial Coatings

    There are also liquid paint anti-microbial coating options. Testing the effectiveness of anti-microbial paints is challenging due to the wide range of environments and substrates. Microban has developed paint additives that are >2% wt. of paint composition but lead to a widely applicable anti-microbial coating. Microban is currently working with world-wide partners to allow for OEMs and supply chains to provide anti-microbial coatings for wide ranges of products. The cost of these additives is reasonable at high volumes but they currently restrict the distribution to large batches for OEM use.

    Microban additives can be used for paints of any color to create an anti-microbial coating. One of the key benefits of the painted finish is they are typically any easily wipeable substrate. Interior paints have been tested using ASTM D3273 (antifungal) for wooden samples. These additives have been lab confirmed to reduce the survival of microorganisms before and after wiping with anti-microbial sprays.[3]

    Vivid can provide an array of options anti-microbial coatings. Thermal sprayed Copper alloys have shown to be affective anti-microbial coatings and they are relatively cost-effective for all volumes. Thermal Sprayed coatings can be added to higher thicknesses and adhesions strengths. Thermal Sprayed anti-bacterial coatings are more robust and rugged for all environments. Anti-microbial paints are widely used and shown to be affective, especially for interior environments. The cost can be kept reasonable at high volumes and large batch sizes. Using paint as an anti-microbial coating you have the advantage of the cosmetic details such as color, gloss and texture.

    Anti-microbial coating research and development will continue and evolve to help curb the spread of unwanted microorganisms. Anti-microbial coatings and materials could be the key to slowing the spread of the next infectious disease and hopefully mitigate the risk of another widespread outbreak.

    [1] University of Southampton. “Using copper to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2015.

    [2] Champagne VK, Helfritch DJ. A demonstration of the antimicrobial effectiveness of various copper surfaces. J Biol Eng. 2013;7(1):8. Published 2013 Mar 27. doi:10.1186/1754-1611-7-8

    [3] Lan, Tian M.S. Achieving Protection in Coatings

    [4] Kurtz IS, Schiffman JD. Current and Emerging Approaches to Engineer Antibacterial and Antifouling Electrospun Nanofibers.Materials (Basel). 2018;11(7):1059. Published 2018 Jun 22. doi:10.3390/ma11071059

    [5] Mostaghimi, Javad Antibacterial Copper Coatings for Frequently Touched and Heat Sensitive Surfaces. 2018

  7. EMI Shielding Strategies

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    EMI Shielding Strategies


    My favorite example is when you’re listening to the radio and hear the speaker making a clicking noise during an incoming phone call. Now imagine this same interference in medical equipment used in Emergency Rooms across the world, hence why companies and Underwriters Laboratory take this issue seriously.


    EMI Shielding is key for the secure functioning of these innovative board assemblies. The shielding methods vary from capping a chip to adhering mesh inserts on a larger substrate. During the process of choosing an EMI shielding method the most important measurement is attenuation, which occurs through absorption and/or reflection of the impinging waves.

    EMI Shielding Strategies

    EMI shielding effectiveness is the ratio of perpendicular propagation of Electrical and Magnetic waves measured before and after the shielding attenuation. The methods of testing for shielding effectiveness include Open Field Method, Shielded Box Method, Shielded Room Method and Coaxial Transmission Line Method. Most of these methods can be costly, there are labs all around the USA that specialize in this type of testing to meet ASTM and IEEE standards.


    Coatings can provide a plastic enclosure the conductive properties of metal without adding weight. Metal Plating is an environmental hazard due to its toxic byproducts and the adhesion strength is low when compared to Thermal Spray solutions. Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) is too expensive and doesn’t survive shock testing. Thermal Spray is the superior coating solutions.

    Thermal Spray is a group of technologies that apply semi-molten materials onto a substrate through atomization processes. These are different ways of spraying pure metals, alloys or ceramics on a plastic, ceramic, glass or metal substrate.


    Twin Wire Arc Spray is a thermal spray technology that is most widely used in EMI Shielding. Twin Wire Arc Spray is a process in which metal wires are charged and guided to create an electric arc at the tip of a gun to create semi-molten material that is atomized using compressed air. The substrate stays at or below 200 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the quick deposition process. There is no post-process step necessary, the coating is cured to touch in milliseconds. Zinc and Copper are both effective materials for shielding due to their electrical conductivity and environmental stability.

    EMI Shielding Strategies

    So before you waste your valuable R&D time and money lab testing, be sure that you are going with a proven EMI Shielding method. You could make it your first and last trip to the EMI testing lab. Reach out for more information ….

  8. Manufacturing as a Service (MaaS)

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    Manufacturing as a Service (MaaS) is the new way to use manufacturing industry knowledge for growing new companies and startups. Manufacturing as a Service providers can help bring your product to market more quickly, at lower costs, and better quality than building a Supply Chain from scratch.

    Manufacturing as a Service

    Vivid has been proving finishing work for the end of supply chains for almost 30 years, and more recently providing Manufacturing as a Service for many private and public companies. Vivid has proven for many years that we can develop and manage an AVL, create a BOM and deliver materials on-time making us the ideal providers of Manufacturing as a Service. Our specialty is high-mix low-volume so we are happy to support projects of all sizes. Our relationships with all types of design groups, plastic suppliers, and sheet metal houses gives us insight on their quality before a developing company may need to find out the hard way.

    Manufacturing as a Service

    We are at the tail end of the supply chain, bringing the parts to life with several finishing technologies. Being located at the tail end the chain is the best position to manage any incoming issues from suppliers. Our Incoming Quality Control can catch any questionable functional or cosmetic quality and make adjustments to “stop the bleeding” further up the line. Providing “Manufacturing as a Service” and managing the BOM we can also create and implement corrective actions and solutions for fixing the root cause with an experienced supply chain team.

  9. Twin Wire Arc Spraying Using 6 Axis Robotics

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    Vivid Incorporated is a Santa Clara based coating facility specializing in Twin Wire Arc Spray, Plasma Spray, Cold Spray, Class A Paints, Teflon, and Thick Film printing. This video takes you into one of our work cells and displays our automated thermal spray process performing perfectly uniform coatings for the automotive industry.

  10. Vivid Inc. Inner Diameter Spray

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    ID Spraying with a hard ceramic for abrasion and corrosion resistance using a 2 foot extension. The substrate is a 3.25″ Steel Cylinder. This is the innovative concept that will eventually completely replace the need for the old “sleeve and weld” technique used in many high abrasion situations.