Metallic bipolar plate (BPP) with high corrosion and low contact resistance, durability, strength, low cost, volume, and weight requirements is one of the critical parts of the PEMFC. This study is dedicated to understand the effect of the process sequence (manufacturing then coating vs. coating then manufacturing) on the corrosion resistance of coated metallic bipolar plates. To this goal, three different PVD coatings (titanium nitride (TiN), chromium nitride (CrN), zirconium nitride (ZrN)), with three thicknesses, (0.1, 0.5, 1 mu m) were applied on BPPs made of 316L stainless steel alloy before and after two types of manufacturing (i.e., stamping or hydroforming). Corrosion test results indicated that ZrN coating exhibited the best corrosion protection while the performance of TiN coating was the lowest among the tested coatings and thicknesses. For most of the cases tested, in which coating was applied before manufacturing, occurrence of corrosion was found to be more profound than the case where coating was applied after manufacturing. Increasing the coating thickness was found to improve the corrosion resistance. It was also revealed that hydroformed BPPs performed slightly better than stamped BPPs in terms of the corrosion behavior. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.