This paper reports a novel vacuum coating plant (VCP) system to prepare magnetic thin films. The first step of this extensive investigation was to evaporate and characterise simple iron films on various substrate in order to understand the process of deposition. The source material evaporated by a resistively heated furnace, which was position under the substrate within the VCP system, contains powdered iron of 99.0% in purity and 1-450 mu m in diameter. The magnetic and structural analysis of the films was achieved by using a vibrating sample magnetometer (VSM) and X-ray diffractometer (XRD), respectively, in order to see the effect of production conditions on the films. The magnetic findings indicate that the films produced on flexible kapton (TM) are anisotropic in the film plane whereas the films deposited on glass substrate indicate comparatively less-well defined anisotropy. All films showed planar magnetic anisotropy irrespective of type of substrate used. Furthermore, when these films are subjected to a bending stress within the VSM, the chances in their magnetic hysteresis loops occur. These results indicate a possible future for this technique to deposit sensing devices for stress detection. X-ray measurements show that the films have a typical body centred cubic (b.c.c.) alpha-iron crystal structure. The chemical compositions of films were confirmed by an inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES). (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.