Highly wear resistant multicomponent or multilayer hard coatings, based on CrN but incorporating other metals, have been developed using closed field unbalanced magnetron sputter ion plating technology. They are exploited in coated machining and forming tools cutting and forming of a wide range of materials in various application environments. These coatings are characterized by desirable properties including good adhesion, high hardness, high toughness, high wear resistance, high thermal stability and high machining capability for steel. The coatings appear to show almost universal working characteristics under operating conditions of low and high temperature, low and high machining speed, machining of ordinary materials and difficult to machine materials, and machining under lubricated and under minimum lubricant quantity or even dry conditions. These coatings can be used for cutting and for forming tools, for conventional (macro-) machining tools as well as for micromachining tools, either as a single coating or in combination with an advanced, self-lubricating topcoat.