Purpose: Carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastics (CFRP) are intensively used in lightweight applications due to their high strength to weight ratio. In addition they offer good crash, damping and recycling properties. On the basis of their morphology they are suitable for large scale manufacturing processes. A major disadvantage consists of its poor hardness properties, which is again an important requirement to realize a good erosion and wear behaviour. Design/methodology/approach: In this work the application of orthotropic carbon fibre reinforced polymers (PA6), with protective TiAlN coatings, produced by physical vapor deposition (PVD), is investigated. The characterization of the coating is performed by nanoindentation tests, roughness measurements and scanning electron microscopy. Furthermore micro hardness tests on selected well prepared cross sections are conducted, to compare the coating quality with established coating systems. Findings: By applying TiAlN coating, the hardness of the CFRP samples can be increased substantially up to 15 GPa, in comparison to the basic substrate. In addition the quality of the coating surface can be improved significantly by plasma etching pre-treatment. Research limitations/implications: The presented findings are preliminary results to prove the application of a standard processed ceramic coating on new composite types for mass production. The PVD coating process as well as the utilized testing methods are suitable to realize hard coatings on thermoplastic CFRP. This effect can be exploited for several lightweight applications to increase the erosion and wear resistance of composite materials. Originality/value: The presented results show, that ceramic coatings can be deposited on standard thermoplastic CFRP with polyamide 6 matrix. Therewith it can be expected, that the PVD coating process can make a essential contribution to increase the range of applications.