Gateway Object: Vacuum Coating Shop

Vacuum Coating Shop, blue floor with freestanding shelves towards the front of image


Next door to the Casket Handle Assembly Shop was the Vacuum Coating Shop. This workshop seems to have come into existence in 1963 when Newman Brothers bought a second-hand vacuum coating machine. The machine was used to put a metallic finish on plastic products. Plastic products were combustible. Combustible products were necessary for cremation. Newman Brothers responded to the growing popularity of cremation by providing plastic versions of their designs and giving them a metallic finish using the vacuum coating machine.

About the process

Vacuum coating is a process of coating one material with another. This usually means applying one metal to another metal in order to protect it from damage or give it properties unique to the metal coating. The two materials are then placed in a vacuum chamber to allow the process to be controlled more easily and where there is less chance of contamination.

Inside the chamber the metal coating is in solid or liquid form it is vaporised and then applied in a thin, even coating to the receiving metal. This process is is called ‘physical vapour deposition’. If the metal coating comes in the form of a chemical solution, it is likewise vaporised and applied to the receiving metal in a thin coat but this process is called ‘chemical vapour deposition’.

View the entire collection