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The steering magnetic field of Hauzer ABS cathodes has been shown to influence strongly the composition and plasma density of cathodic arc discharges. Magnetic field shapes comprising an arched component combined with fotwardleading field lines (similar to unbalanced magnetrons) promote a strong ion transport towards the substrates. The arched magnetic field configuration confines a long-life Ar plasma near the cathode, which influences the charge state of metal ions produced by the cathode spot. Through-field magnetic configurations lead to a decreased ion flux to the substrates but a somewhat increased ion charge state. The paper shows that the steering magnetic field in cathodic arc evaporation can be used effectively to control both the magnitude and composition of the ion flux to the substrates.