Since decades, protective hard coatings with thicknesses of a few micrometers are grown by physical or chemical vapor deposition (PVD, CVD) on cutting tools to improve their application performance. For the huge variety of cutting applications, different coating materials are used, which typically belong to the material classes of nitrides, carbides, carbonitrides, borides, boronitrides or oxides, frequently in bi- or multilayer stacks. The present work surveys typical hard coatings belonging to the respective material classes, deposited by PVD as well as CVD. Pioneering studies in this field as well as recent findings contributing to the establishment of comprehensive “synthesis – structure – property – application performance” relationships of the respective coatings are discussed and the current state-of-research is reviewed. Condensed summaries and comparisons between PVD and CVD coatings are given at the end of each subsection. In addition, current and future challenges for the hard coatings community are surveyed.
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