Coatings or films are applied to a substrate for several applications, such as waterproofing, corrosion resistance, adhesion performance, cosmetic effects, and optical coatings. When applying a coating to a substrate, it is vital to monitor the coating thickness during the coating process to achieve a product to the desired specification via real time production control. There are several different coating thickness measurement methods that can be used, either in‐line or off‐line, which can determine the coating thickness relative to the material of the coating and the substrate. In‐line coating thickness measurement methods are often very difficult to design and implement due to the nature of the harsh environmental conditions of typical production processes and the speed at which the process is run. This paper addresses the current and novel coating thickness methodologies for application to chromium coatings on a ferro‐magnetic steel substrate with their advantages and limitations regarding in‐line measurement. The most common in‐line coating thickness measurement method utilized within the steel packaging industry is the X‐ray Fluorescence (XRF) method, but these systems can become costly when implemented for a wide packaging product and pose health and safety concerns due to its ionizing radiation. As technology advances, nanometerscale coatings are becoming more common, and here three methods are highlighted, which have been used extensively in other industries (with several variants in their design) which can potentially measure coatings of nanometer thickness in a production line, precisely, safely, and do so in a non‐contact and non‐destructive manner. These methods are optical reflectometry, ellipsometry and interferometry.
- coating thickness measurement
- steel substrate
- optical metrology